Prime Intention of the Blog

"People without children would face a hopeless future; a country without trees and wildlife is almost as helpless".

I still remember my childhood days when I used to visit Dandeli a place where even my father started his professional career and also where my most of the relatives were staying.Even though I never brought up in Dandeli no one could stop me to go there since it was just two hours journey from my native. And during every visit I used to get the scoldings from my father and relatives since I used to spend most of the time in forests than in house.So as I grown up my visit to Dandeli became very less except twice or thrice in a year since I became busy with studies but always I had in my mind that I should contribute something to these magnificent forests which inspired me a lot to fall in love with the Conservation.So it is just an attempt from my side to create awareness to save these magnificent animals and landscapes they exist in.If this blog contributes in a small way to achieve this goal I will be the most happiest person in this world.
This blog mainly focuses towards conservation activities in and around Dandeli-Anshi Tiger Reserve.This blog doesn't provide any information regarding tourism and its related activities in and around Dandeli-Anshi Tiger Reserve.

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Thursday, June 14, 2012

Is Khanapur forest a better option for elephants than Dandeli,Haliyal forests?

People reading this article will really wonder that how the fragmentation of interconnected forests can pose a threat to the large mammals to select some other forests even than the protected areas.But actually it is a truth and this is not a story of some other forests.It is the story of  Asian elephants which are fast disappearing from North Canara forests and finding their ways in Khanapur forests of Belgaum district.As we all know 80% of the North Canara district is covered with forests but I can strongly say it is just a truth in textbook and not in reality.Huge settlements,resorts, home stays,hydro electric projects,dams,roads deep inside the forests have shrinked the wildlife habitat which is a big threat.And a good example for this is,the elephants which were once used to migrate between Malnad plateau and North Canara district have now lost their migratory paths due to huge fragmentation forcing them to find new places for their survival.
So I want to bring out some of the facts and statistics by which one can easily understand why the  elephants which were once easily sighted in Dandeli-Haliyal-Yellapur forests are heading towards Khanapur forests.

North Canara Landscape
Elephant habitats:The forest divisions of Haliyal, Dandeli, Sirsi, Yellapur and Karwar constitute the elephant habitats in the northern hill tracts of Karnataka. The hills are low,but farm rather in wide belt with precipitation ranging from 6500 mm at the crest to about 1000 mm on the plateau and the vegetation ranges from evergreen to dry thorn types (Prasad et al. 1974). The natural habitats in this region are fragmented by expanding human population, heavy exploitation of forest for timber and soft wood,mining (iron and manganese) and hydroelectric projects (Prasad et al. 1974, Sukumar1989). The state of Maharashtra and Goa including the forest division of Belgaum were not part of the traditional elephant ranges. However, an elephant herd from the Haliyal–Dandeli Forest division made a short foray into Belgaum Forest division in 2001.Subsequently, between 2002 and 2004, the herd further extending its range northward visited the southern parts of Sindhudurg district in Maharashtra causing damage to crop and properties. Since 2005, the herd is staying back in Maharashtra, around the forested area of Sindhudurg and Kolhapur districts and is in conflict with people with part of the herd occasionally wandering further westward into Goa state. A few elephants were captured by Maharashtra and the rest continue to range in and around Tillari Reservoir in Maharashtra in considerable conflict with the people of this region. It is likely that their traditional range in the north Canara is subjected to intensive biotic pressure or fragmentation, being unable to sustain within or part of their traditional home, the elephants moved further northward into Belguam and Maharashtra in search of new area to settle down, as reported elsewhere in Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu (Danielet l. 1995, Baskaran 1998). Although the natural habitats in north Canara have tenuous link with Malnad plateau on its southern side, elephant movements do not take place anymore, probably due to higher disturbance from Bangalore–Shimoga highway and villages around the Shimoga Forest division.
Vegetation land use: Evergreen forests dominates (26% or 6055 km2) the natural vegetation in the landscape (Fig. 2), followed by almost equal (11%) spread of tropical deciduous (2700 km2) and dry-thorn forests (2525 km2). However, at the landscape level, two thirds of the land cover is occupied by human settlement/cultivation (33% or 7800km2) (Table 2). In addition, the landscape also has commercial plantations like coffee(Coffea arabica) and tea (Camellia sinensis) over 2500 km2 (11%) indicating the level of habitat fragmentation.
Elephant population: In this region, the elephants are scattered at low density. In 2002,synchronized census estimated 58 elephants (Elephant Census 2002). However, in 2005 the number declined to 34 (Table 3. Elephant Census 2005), possibly due to the straying of an elephant herd from Belgaum division to Maharashtra. Dandeli Tiger Reserve is an important elephant habitat in this region supporting the bulk of the population consistently during 2002–07.
Conservation issue: Fragmentation of habitat by (a) expanding human population, (b) extensive exploitation of forest for timber and soft wood in the past, (c) mining (iron and manganese), and (d) Kalinadi hydroelectric project could be the reasons for the straying of elephants from Haliyal Forest division into Belgaum to Maharshtra. The Dandeli Tiger Reserve alone supports bulk of the elephants of this region. However, no detailed data are available for the elephants in North-Canara including new habitats in Maharashtra and Goa. A more objective study is needed to evaluate the habitat conditions, its corridors, population structure and viability including present scenario of human–elephant conflict to make firm conservation recommendation for this population.
And also some of the statistics below tells us the disappearance of elephants from North Canara forests in a decade during a survey conducted by Karnataka Forest Department and Asian Nature Conservation, a NGO which focusses towards wildlife research and conservation in Southern India.
Better Bamboo availability in Khanapur Region:
And one major reason for the migration is the availability of Bamboo which is the major source of food for elephants.Khanapur region has got some of the best bamboo forests especially in Nagargali,Golihalli range.
Elephant Census 2002:
As per the Elephant population estimated using block count method for various divisions in Karnataka during 2002 synchronized elephant census, Belgaum division had the sighting of 10 elephants against the Dandeli Wildlife Division,Karwar,Haliyal,Yellapur divisions which had 3,3,NIL,NIL sightings respectively.
Elephant Census 2005:
Block Count: No elephant was sighted in the sample block but 5 elephants were found outside the census blocks.  
Dung count: The Dung count raw data was received and analysis was carried out. 
Block Count: Only two elephants were sighted in the 84 sample blocks. No analysis was done due to lack of block size data. 
Dung Count: In Belgaum of the 54 km of transects walked 49 dung piles were seen. 
Elephant Census 2010:
No data has been collected in this region.

So from all the data provided above, it is clear that fragmentation is the main reason for migration of elephants from Dandeli and surrounding areas to Khanapur forests.We all know that Dandeli will soon have the significance of Elephant Reserve and I am sure once again Dandeli forests will flourish with the Jumbos if it is implemented.
1.The State of Asian Elephants in the Western Ghats, Southern India, and Its Implications to Promote Conservation of the Ecology of Western Ghats
N. Baskaran (with technical assistance of R. Sukumar)
2.KARNATAKA ELEPHANT CENSUS 2010,Technical Report to The Karnataka Forest Department
4.KARNATAKA ELEPHANT CENSUS 2010,Summary Report to The Karnataka Forest Department

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