Elephant corridors in India
Asian elephants are classified as “Endangered” because in the past 60-70 years, their numbers have decreased by over 50%. The major threats to the Asian elephant today are habitat loss, degradation, and fragmentation which are caused by an expanding human population. This in turn leads to increasing human-elephant conflict, which results in the death and injury of hundreds of people and elephants each year. Thus the most important conservation priorities for wild elephants are conservation of elephant habitat and creating corridors joining fragmented areas and mitigation of human-elephant conflict (IUCN, 2010).
Dublin Zoo began supporting Asian elephant conservation in 2008 by teaming up with Elephant Family, a charity dedicated solely to the protection of Asian elephants. In 2010, with the support of Dublin Zoo, Elephant Family and the Wildlife Trust if India conducted essential surveys into establishing wildlife corridors in Assam. Assam is in northeast India where one third of India’s wild elephants are found. After preliminary studies, the Kalapahr-Daigurung corridor was selected for further investigation as it offered the best prospects of establishing a viable corridor and elephants regularly pass through this area. This corridor would connect the Kalioni Reserve Forest and the Kaziranga National Park (biodiversity hotspot and World Heritage Site). Local people have been surveyed about their use of the corridor, the local planning authorities have been notified of its presence and signage has been erected advising people to minimise their presence here and to take precautions if passing through. Further ecological studies need to be conducted before the corridor is procured.
In addition to this, Dublin Zoo helped Elephant Family run the Elephant Parade Classroom Challenge in Ireland. The Elephant Parade is an international art event which raises funds and awareness for Asian elephants by using 200 brightly coloured elephant statues. School children were asked to submit an Irish-themed design for one of these elephants and the winner then worked with an established artist (Bill Griffin) to paint their design onto one of the statues.