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Safe corridor for tuskers in State

 
Deccan Herald , Sunday, January 01, 2006
 
Human settlements, cattle grazing and fuel-wood collection are some of the problems that affect these corridors.
 
Probably for the first time in the country a unique conservation experiment is unfolding in southern Karnataka in which an NGO with foreign funding has acquired land, which will be transferred to the State government to ensure smooth movement of elephants.
 
In the first phase, the NGO Wildlife Trust of India (WTI) acquired 26 acre of fallow land on a narrow stretch between BRT sanctuary in Chamrajnagar division and Kollegal. Each acre cost between Rs 30,000 to 40,000, for which the funding came from International Fund for Animal Welfare in Massachusetts, USA. The WTI intends to purchase another 12 acre before March 31, 2006 after which the entire land would be handed over to the State wildlife and forest department, to ensure that it is used as an elephant corridor.
 
“We have identified 88 elephant corridors — small stretches of land crucial for elephant movement inside forests — all over the country, which needs to be protected. Out of these, 20 corridors are in south India of which six falls in Karnataka. These corridors need to be secured,” Dr P S Easa, senior director at WTI told Deccan Herald here on Friday.
 
“Securing the elephant corridor is the ultimate solution to the problem of fragmentation of habitat and isolation of population,” Union Environment and Forest minister A Raja said launching a report on elephant corridors in the country.
 
India houses half of the world’s elephant population — between 27,000 to 29,000 — out of which approximately 5,500 are in southern jungles.
 
The six corridors are Karadikkal-Madeswara in Bannerghatta National Park; Tali in Bangalore Rural and Hosur forest division; Edayarhalli-Doddasampige and Chamrajnagar-Talamalai both in Chamrajnagar wildlife division, Kaniyanpura-Moyar corridor in Bandipur national park and Chamrajnagar-Talamalai corridor which partly falls in Karnataka and the rest in Satyamangalam forest in Tamil Nadu.
 
Human settlements, cattle grazing and fuel-wood collection are some of the problems that affect these corridors.
 
Anticipating agriculture and commercial activities, the NGO in coordination with Asian Nature Conservation Foundation (ANCF) decided to buy the piece of land and after protracted negotiation with local authorities, ultimately purchased it last year. “It was a learning experience from us as we have to satisfy so many government officials,” he said.
 
“We are for protection of these 88 corridors — 12 in the north west India, 20 in central India, 14 in northern West Bengal, 22 in the North East and 20 in south India — under the Environment Protection Act so that there is no land-use change in these areas,” said WTI’s Vivek Menon.
 
The WTI study revealed that 77 per cent of the corridors are being regularly used by elephants. After successfully carrying out the Karnataka project, the NGOs are eyeing the Chamrajnagar-Talamalai and Tirunelli-Kudrakote stretch in Kerala.
 
Mysore zoo on a mission to save abandoned jumbo calf
 
Deccan Herald, Sunday, January 1, 2006
 
By Shankar Bennur DH News Service Mysore:
 
The century-old Mysore Zoo is facing a challenge to save a 60-day-old female elephant calf which was rescued from Bandipur National Park. The calf, which is in a severe dehydrated state, is on a ‘round-the-clock’ observation under the watchful eyes of zoo vets.
 
But the chances of its survival are remote as its condition is serious. Yet, the zoo vets are not giving up. Zoo Director Manoj Kumar is accessing information from the zoos across India and the world, to find out any other new method that could save this young calf.
 
“It is very difficult to save jumbo calves in the age group of two months. They should have had mother’s milk for at least 2.5 to 3 months so that its immune system will be strong enough to withstand problems. Nevertheless we have taken this case as a challenge and are consulting experts to help save it,” Kumar told Deccan Herald.
 
The calf was stuck in the slush at a lake in Bandipur. The body was covered in mud as it appears that its mother tried to pull the calf from the mud. The calf was perhaps abandoned after its mother made futile attempts to rescue her. “We do not know for how many days the calf was lying in the mud. It was in a dehydrated condition and had eaten lot of mud,” he added.
 
Saving record
 
In fact, the zoo has a record of saving four adandoned or rescued calves brought to the zoo since 1981. The zoo received a record number of abandoned calves since 1981.
 
According to the statistics available at the zoo, 16 calves, aged between 2 months to 2 years, had been brought to zoo.
 
Of them, four were saved. While two calves are living in the zoo, one was released in the forest. But, four-year-old Gajendra, which was just 50-day-old when brought to zoo, died due to some disease recently.
 
The calves - one is two-and-a-half years and the other is 8 months - that are living in the zoo were rescued from H D Kote forests. Incidentally, a zoo keeper played ‘surrogate mother’ to one of the calves to save its life. “Gajendra lived for four years and we believe it an achievement as it was taken care of when it was just 50-days-old,” Kumar explains.
 
The zoo doctors are putting in their best efforts to save the calf rescued from Bandipur.
 
The calf which is under treatment, will survive if it responds to our treatment, he adds.
 
BLOOD SERUM COMES TO RESCUE
 
A 15-day-old jumbo calf, rescued from Kollegal, survived for over 25 days, thanks to transfusion of blood serum from a healthy adult elephant, Gajalakshmi, to the calf to strengthen its immune system. But the efforts did not save the animal as it collapsed on Saturday. But its survival for 25 days is itself a mystery since calves below two months never survive for long without mother’s milk, say zoo doctors.