Elephants on the pathway to extinction?

Squeezed for a place to survive, the mighty elephants are now rampantly attacking villages. The reason? Declining forest spaces, lack of availability of food and increasing population of humans. Asian elephants are now endangered species, more than their African counterparts. Elephant, which was looked upon as a symbol of worship, was used in wars to combat against enemies, is today struggling to own their space-their basic right in their world of forests, thanks to humans. With the excessive rise of population and humans encroaching the forest spaces.

Why do we need elephants?

Even droppings of the elephants are considered important for the ecosystem. Undigested seeds and nuts are picked up by birds and baboons. The dung makes the soil very rich. It is also beneficial for seed dispersal as some seeds will not sprout until they pass through the elephant’s digestive system. Yes, that is just one reason why we need elephants to survive. The fragile ecosystem breaks down with one linkage going down, the tremors of which will have to be borne by we human beings.

The decline in population of elephants can be attributed to poaching for ivory, meat, electrocution and being hit by trains. A naturalist was recently mentioning an incident which shook me. Four elephants near Valparai died on the railway tracks. These elephants travelled across villages, about 36 kms in search of water and when they were on their way to forest, they were killed. This caused a deep agony.

Human-elephant conflict has become a humongous challenge today. As humans have taken over their space, these animals are left with no choice but to enter farm lands for food-even if they have to kill humans, break the electric fence, trample crops.

According to a report,

“In and around this region (Ranchi, Jharkhand), villagers on the fringes of the forests say they never saw elephants prior to the 1980’s, let alone had any conflicts with them.  However, as a result of human population growth and resultant habitat pressures, human-elephant conflicts increased dramatically.  As forests become more fragmented and degraded or are converted to monoculture plantations, both elephant feeding and migratory patterns are disrupted.  The results are sadly predictable.”

Indian Institute of Science (IISc), which used Global positioning system (GPS) to observe elephant movements, in an experiment, found that elephants ventured into farms only at night. They believe that by real-time tracking of elephants, we can solve the conflict scenario.

We can stop killing the poor animal for its meat, ivory and all the economic value it has. One one hand humans worship them as God and on the other hand, mercilessly use weapons to hunt them down. What kind of injustice to the nature! It is time we owe them for helping our past generation ..on war front, in carrying logs, and most important of all fertilising the forest soil. Let us save this animal before it becomes critically endangered.

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