Asian Elephants of Nilgiri
2023 JAN 6
Environment and Ecology > Species extinction & protection > Species in news
Why in news?
- According to a study, the endangered Asian Elephant has lost most of its optimal habitat, the flat terrain in Nilgiri Biosphere Reserve.
More about the news:
- The Western Ghats is interrupted towards the south by the low-lying Palghat Gap that separates the northern from the southern elephant populations.
- The northern part of the Western Ghats includes Nilgiri Biosphere Reserve(NBR) and its surrounding protected areas which contain the largest remaining population of wild elephants.
- Earlier, the Palghat gap was relatively flat and consequently easily negotiable by elephants to move from North to South.
- However, now human settlements and crop cultivation have hindered the movement of the elephants, keeping them confined to the hilly areas considered suboptimal habitats.
- The study has shown that when barriers are erected, particularly in areas with slopes, elephant movement is blocked and gene flow is reduced.
- There will also be more in-breeding and low genetic diversity pushing up chances of disease and lowering fertility rates.
- This could ultimately lead to increasing the extinction risk of this endangered species.
About Nilgiris elephant corridor:
- The Nilgiri Biosphere Reserve is the largest protected forest area in India.
- The Biosphere Reserve spreads across three states. Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, and Kerala.
- It is situated in the ecologically fragile Sigur plateau. The plateau connects the Western and the Eastern Ghats. Apart from that, the plateau also sustains elephant populations and their genetic diversity.
- It hosts forest systems, ranging from seasonal rain forests in the low hills, tropical montane Shola forests and grasslands in the higher reaches, and moist deciduous to scrub through dry-deciduous towards the plains in the Eastern end.
About Asian Elephants:
- There are three subspecies of Asian elephant which are the Indian, Sumatran and Sri Lankan.
- The Indian subspecies has the widest range and accounts for the majority of the remaining elephants on the continent.
- Global Population of Asian Elephants is estimated at 20,000 to 40,000.
- Protection Status:
- IUCN Red List: Endangered.
- Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972: Schedule I.
- CITES: Appendix I
Consider the following statements:
1. Asian elephants are the second largest mammals on land.
2. India has the largest population of wild Asian elephants.
Which among the above statements is/are correct?
(a) 1 only
(b) 2 only
(c) Both 1 and 2
(d) Neither 1 nor 2