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The Indian government has taken various measures to preserve the Asian elephant population in the country, including the establishment of the Elephant Reserve as a protected area in addition to Project Elephant. For those preparing for competitive exams, this article offers a comprehensive overview of the elephant population in India. Specifically, it covers details on the Total Elephant Reserves in India, along with relevant information and maps.
▪ India has the highest concentration (more than 50%) of wild Asian elephants in the entire world.
▪ Currently, there are 33 elephant reserves in India. And they spread over ten elephant landscapes.
▪ Elephant is the state animal of Jharkhand, Kerala, and Karnataka.
▪ Scientific name of Asian elephants is “Elephas maximus”.
Total Elephant Reserves in India 2023, recent updates
▪ The government of India had notified a total of 33 Elephant Reserves in India. The total elephant population in India is 27312 ( Latest Census in 2017 ).
▪ To mark the importance of Elephants -12 August is commemorated every year as World Elephant Day globally.
▪ There are 33 elephant reserves in India. Lemru Elephant Reserve in Chhattisgarh, Singphan Elephant Reserve in Nagaland, Agasthiyamalai Elephant Reserve in Tamil Nadu, and Terai Elephant Reserve (Uttar Pradesh) are the most recent additions to India’s Elephant Reserves.
▪ This brings the total territory under Elephant Reserves in India to around 76,508 square kilometres spread across 14 states.
▪ Last 5 elephant reserves are
- 29th elephant reserve – Dandeli Elephant Reserve (Karnataka)
- 30th elephant reserve – Singphan Elephant Reserve (Nagaland)
- 31st elephant reserve – Lemru Elephant Reserve (Chhattisgarh)
- 32nd elephant reserve – Agasthyamalai Elephant Reserve (Tamil Nadu)
- 33rd elephant reserve -Terai Elephant Reserve (Uttar Pradesh)
Latest elephant reserve in India
▪ The two most recently declared elephant reserves are the Agasthyamalai Elephant Reserve and the Terai Elephant Reserve.
▪ Agasthiyamalai Elephant Reserve is the 32nd addition to the Elephant Reserves of India.
▪ Agasthiyamalai Elephant Reserve has been notified in 2022 by the Government of Tamil Nadu.
▪ Recently, the Union Ministry of Forests, Environment and Climate Change (MoEFCC) approved the Terai Elephant Reserve (TER).
▪ After the approval of the Terai Elephant Reserves (TER) in Uttar Pradesh, India’s total number of elephant reserves is now 33.
▪ This has brought the total area under Elephant Reserves in India to about 79,557 sq. km across 14 states of the country.
Read Also: All Protected Areas of India
32nd Elephant Reserve in India
▪ Tamil Nadu Chief Minister MK Stalin announced via Twitter that Agasthyamalai in Tirunelveli district has become Tamil Nadu’s 5th elephant reserve.
▪ The Agasthyamalai Elephant Reserve (area 1,197.48 sq km) is located at the southernmost tip of the Western Ghats and spans the two southern states of Kerala and Tamil Nadu.
▪ It is named after the Agastya Mala peak rising about 1868 meters above sea level in Thiruvananthapuram, Kerala.
▪ The other four elephant sanctuaries in Tamil Nadu are:
- Nilgiris-Eastern Ghat Elephant Reserve
- Coimbatore Silent Valley Elephant Reserve
- Srivilliputhur Elephant Reserve
- Anamalai or Annamalai Elephant Reserve
33rd elephant reserve in India
▪ The Terai Elephant Reserve (TER) is located in Uttar Pradesh.
▪ It is the second elephant reserve in Uttar Pradesh after the Uttar Pradesh Elephant Reserve.
▪ The Terai Elephant Reserve covers an area of 3,049 sq km, spanning Dudhwa Tiger Reserve (DTR) and Pilibhit Tiger Reserve (PTR).
▪ It is India’s 33rd Elephant Reserve.
About Terai Elephant Reserve
▪ The Terai Elephant Reserve is the 33rd elephant reserve in India, covering an area of 3,049 square kilometers in the Dudhwa-Pilibhit district of Uttar Pradesh.
▪ It will be located within the Dudhwa and Piliphit tiger reserves, serving to conserve Asian elephants, tigers, swamp deer, and one-horned rhinoceros.
▪ This is the third elephant reserve approved under Project Elephant by the Union Environment Ministry in the past three months, with the other two being Lemru in Chhattisgarh and Agasthymalai in Tamil Nadu.
▪ The establishment of this new reserve will aid in the conservation of the transboundary movement of elephant populations and protect nearby communities in Uttar Pradesh’s Indo-Nepal border area. Additionally, it will help maintain grasslands and elephant corridors in the tiger reserves of Dudhwa and Piliphit.
About Agasthiyamalai Elephant Reserve
▪ The Agasthiyamalai Elephant Reserve is situated in Tamil Nadu and is spread over an area of 1197 square kilometres, dedicated to the conservation of elephants in India.
▪ According to the 2010 Census, the number of Asian elephants in the Periyar-Agasthyamalai region is estimated to be around 1800, with approximately 300 elephants found in the southern part of the Agasthiyamalai Elephant Reserve and the Mahendragiri hill ranges.
▪ These areas include the Neyyar, Shendurney, and Peppara Wildlife Sanctuaries and the Kalakkad-Mundanthurai Tiger Reserve, all of which fall under the Thiruvananthapuram Forest Division.
▪ The Periyar-Agasthyamalai region covers an area of 5,600 square kilometers and 16 forest divisions in Tamil Nadu and Kerala, where the elephant population is distributed.
▪ The elephant habitat in this region comprises the southern part of the Periyar Plateau and its eastern spur, the Varushnad and Meghamalai hill ranges, the Achankoil Valley, and the Agasthiyamalai Elephant Reserve and Mahendragiri hill range on the southern side. This region holds the potential to connect populations in the Srivilliputhur Meghamalai Tiger Reserve and the Periyar ecosystems.
Elephant Range Countries
▪ Although elephants are found all over the world, the largest numbers are found in Asia and Africa.
▪ Elephants are found in a total of 13 countries in Asia, these countries are called Elephant Range Countries.
▪ Out of 13 countries, 5 countries are in South Asia, namely India, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Nepal, and Sri Lanka.
▪ Of the remaining 8 countries, 7 countries are located in Southeast Asia and the other in North Asia. Countries located in South East Asia are Vietnam, Laos, Malaysia, Indonesia, Cambodia, Myanmar, and Thailand and the North Asian country is China.
Major Initiatives to protect elephants in India
National Heritage Animal
▪ The Government of India declared the Indian elephant as a National Heritage Animal in 2010.
Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972.
▪ The Indian elephant is also given the highest degree of legal protection by being listed in Schedule I of the Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972.
Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species
▪ Indian elephant also included in Appendix I of CITIES (Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora, also known as the Washing Convention)
Migratory Species of Wild Animals (CMS COP 13)
▪ In February 2020, the Thirteenth Meeting of the Convention on Migratory Species of Wild Animals (CMS COP 13) was held at Gandhinagar, Gujarat.
▪ At this COP 13 meeting of the CMS, three animals, namely the Great Indian Bustard, an Asian Elephant, and a Bengal Florican were added to Appendix I.
Monitoring the Illegal Killing of Elephants
▪ The CITIES Monitoring the Illegal Killing of Elephants (MIKE) program is a site-based system designed to monitor the illegal killing of elephants and provide information to help states make appropriate management and enforcement decisions.
• MIKE was started in South Asia in 2003
▪ When an elephant carcass is found, local site staff try to establish and record the cause of death and other details. These data are recorded in a standardized form, the details of which are then collated and submitted to the MIKE program for analysis.
Elephant care initiative by the Government of India
▪ India’s first elephant rehabilitation center is to be set up in Kottur, Kerala.
▪ Gaj Yatra is a nationwide awareness campaign to celebrate elephants and highlight the need to protect elephant corridors.
▪ India’s first specialized hospital for elephants opens in Mathura. The hospital has modern medical facilities to treat elephants in distress like wireless digital X-ray, laser treatment, dental X-ray, thermal imaging, ultrasonography, hydrotherapy, tranquilization equipment, and quarantine facilities.
▪ Plan B, a unique strategy adopted by the North East Frontier Railway (NFR) to keep wild elephants off the tracks.
▪ Plan B is a unique strategy that involves placing devices near the track, which emit the ‘buzzing’ sound of swarming bees, which is considered a natural deterrent to elephants (elephants have a natural fear of dangerous stings of the insects).
▪ The first Plan B device was installed near Guwahati railway station.
▪ Recently, Plan B launched by Northeast Frontier Railway (NFR) won the Indian Railways Best Innovation Award.
List of Elephant Reserves in India 2023
▪ Here is the list of 32 elephant reserves in India with state and zone.
|Sl. No||Elephant Reserves||State||Zone|
|1||Shivalik Elephant Reserve||Uttarakhand||North-Western Landscape|
|2||Uttar Pradesh Elephant Reserve||Uttarpradesh||North-Western Landscape|
|3||Mayurjharna Elephant Reserve||West Bengal||East-Central Landscape|
|4||Singhbhum Elephant Reserve||Jharkhand||East-Central Landscape|
|5||Mayurbhanj Elephant Reserve||Orissa||East-Central Landscape|
|6||Mahanadi Elephant Reserve||Orissa||East-Central Landscape|
|7||Sambalpur Elephant Reserve||Orissa||East-Central Landscape|
|8||Lemru Elephant Reserve||Chhattisgarh||East-Central Landscape|
|9||Badalkhol – Tamor Pingla Elephant Reserve||Chhattisgarh||East-Central Landscape|
|10||Kameng Elephant Reserve||Arunachal Pradesh||Kameng- Sonitpur Landscape|
|11||Sonitpur Elephant Reserve||Assam||Kameng- Sonitpur Landscape|
|12||Dihing-Patkai Elephant Reserve||Assam||Eastern-South Bank Landscape|
|13||South Arunachal Elephant Reserve||Arunachal Pradesh||Eastern-South Bank Landscape|
|14||Kaziranga-Karbi Anglong-Intanki Landscape||Assam||Kaziranga-Karbi Anglong Elephant Reserve|
|15||Dhansiri-Lungding Elephant Reserve||Assam||Kaziranga-Karbi Anglong-Intanki Landscape|
|16||Intanki Elephant Reserve||Nagaland||Kaziranga-Karbi Anglong-Intanki Landscape|
|17||Chirang-Ripu Elephant Reserve||Assam||North Bengal- Greater Manas Landscape|
|18||Eastern Dooars Elephant Reserve||West Bengal||North Bengal- Greater Manas Landscape|
|19||Garo Hills Elephant Reserve||Meghalaya||Meghalaya Landscape|
|20||Mysore Elephant Reserve||Karnataka||Brahmagiri- Nilgiri-Eastern Ghats Landscape|
|21||Wayanad Elephant Reserve||Kerala||Brahmagiri- Nilgiri-Eastern Ghats Landscape|
|22||Nilambur Elephant Reserve||Kerala||Brahmagiri- Nilgiri-Eastern Ghats Landscape|
|23||Coimbatore Elephant Reserve||Tamil Nadu||Brahmagiri- Nilgiri-Eastern Ghats Landscape|
|24||Nilgiri Elephant Reserve||Tamil Nadu||Brahmagiri- Nilgiri-Eastern Ghats Landscape|
|25||Rayala Elephant Reserve||Andhra Pradesh||Brahmagiri- Nilgiri-Eastern Ghats Landscape|
|26||Annamalai Elephant Reserve||Tamil Nadu||Annamalai- Nelliyampathy- High Range Landscape|
|27||Anamudi Elephant Reserve||Kerala||Annamalai- Nelliyampathy- High Range Landscape|
|28||Periyar Elephant Reserve||Kerala||Periyar- Agasthyamalai Landscape|
|29||Srivilliputhur Elephant Reserve||Tamil Nadu||Periyar- Agasthyamalai Landscape|
|30||Dandeli Elephant Reserve||Karnataka||Periyar- Agasthyamalai Landscape|
|31||Singphan Elephant Reserve||Nagaland||Periyar- Agasthyamalai Landscape Kaziranga-Karbi Anglong-Intanki Landscape|
|32||Agasthiyamalai Elephant Reserve||Tamil Nadu||Periyar- Agasthyamalai Landscape|
|33||Terai Elephant Reserve||Uttar Pradesh||North-Western Landscape|
Total Elephant Reserves in India Map
Proposed Elephant Reserve
|Sl. No||Elephant Reserves||State||Zone|
|1||Baitami Elephant Reserve||Orissa||East-Central Landscape|
|2||South Orissa Elephant Reserve||Orissa||East-Central Landscape|
|3||Khasi-hills Elephant Reserve||Meghalaya||Meghalaya Landscape|
State-wise Elephant Population in India 2023
|Sl No||State||Number of Elephants|
▪ The government’s Project Elephant scheme is designed to aid states with wild elephant populations in managing and safeguarding the animals.
▪ Project Elephant was launched by the Government of India in the year 1992 as a Centrally Sponsored Scheme with the following objectives:
To protect elephants, their habitat & corridors
▪ The government’s Project Elephant scheme is designed to aid states with wild elephant populations in managing and safeguarding the animals.
▪ It aims to secure elephant corridors and habitats to promote the survival of wild elephants. This conservation initiative is currently implemented in 16 of India’s 28 states and union territories, including Andhra Pradesh, Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, Karnataka, Kerala, Maharashtra, Meghalaya, Nagaland, Orissa, Tamil Nadu, Uttar Pradesh, Uttaranchal, and West Bengal.
To address issues of man-animal conflict.
▪ The central government offers technical and financial support to these states to assist them in achieving their project objectives. In addition, the government assists in conducting elephant censuses and training field officials to help prevent human-elephant conflict.
The Welfare of Captive Elephants
▪ Captive elephants can be found in various facilities such as zoos, sanctuaries, circuses, or camps, where they are usually under the supervision of a veterinarian. They may be utilized for educational, entertainment, or work purposes.
▪ The earliest known evidence of captive elephants dates back to about 4,500 years ago during the Indus Valley Civilization. Since then, elephants have been kept in captivity around the world for war, ceremonies, labor, and entertainment purposes.
▪ For at least 3,500 years, they have been kept in animal collections. North America received its first elephant in 1796. London Zoo, which was the first scientific zoo, started housing elephants in 1831.
▪ The Irinjadappilly Sree Krishna Temple in Kerala, India, has taken steps to alleviate the captivity of elephants by introducing a mechanical elephant. The temple will use this elephant to conduct ceremonies in a “safe and cruelty-free” manner, as per a press release by People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) in India. PETA has donated the mechanical elephant to the temple.
World Elephant Day
▪ World Elephant Day is observed on August 12 to spread global awareness for the conservation and protection of elephants from various threats.
▪ It was launched on August 12, 2012, to draw attention to the urgent plight of Asian and African elephants.
Elephant Census 2017
▪ An elephant census is conducted every 5 years. The last elephant census was conducted in 2017, the next elephant census will be conducted in 2022.
▪ According to the 2017 Elephant Census Report, Karnataka has the highest number of elephants (6049), followed by Assam (5719) and Kerala (3054).
Elephant Population in India 2022
♦ Total elephants in India: According to the 2017 census, the elephant population in the country is estimated at 29964.
▪ There are 14,612 elephants in the southern region and 10,139 in the northeast.
▪ The total number is lower than the 2012 census. Because the number of elephants in the 2012 census was 30,711.
Census of captive elephants
▪ The Ministry of Environment, Forests, and Climate Change released the results of the first survey of elephants in captivity in 2019.
▪ 58 percent of all captive elephants are concentrated in two states, Assam (905) and Kerala (518).
Current Affairs Related to Elephants in the News
▪ Sri Lanka recently mourned the death of a 69-year-old elephant named ‘Raja’, who was declared its ‘national treasure’.
▪ Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change ministry has set up a permanent coordination committee to prevent the deaths of elephants on railway tracks.
▪ Save the Elephant Day is celebrated on 16th April every year to raise awareness about the dangers elephants face.
▪ At the 16th Steering Committee meeting the Ministry of Environment, Forest, and Climate Change launched a field manual relating to the Human-Elephant conflict.
▪ Recently, a state forest department has set up an elephant rescue center at the Balmiki Tiger Reserve in Bihar.
▪ Odisha plans to install automatic sirens near national highways to protect elephants from accidents.
▪ Recently, Irinjadappilly Sri Krishna Temple in Kerala has introduced a mechanical elephant to conduct ceremonies at the Temple in a “safe and cruelty-free” way.
▪ Recently, West Bengal has launched a unique human-driven initiative “Gajamitra (Friends of Elephants)”.
▪ Recently, the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change has announced the completion of the DNA (Deoxyribonucleic Acid) Profiling of 270 elephants under the “Project Elephant”.
Indian Elephant Facts
▪ India is home to the largest population of Asian elephants (50-60%).
▪ Project Elephant in India started in 1992.
▪ Mysore Elephant Reserve in Karnataka is the largest elephant reserve in India.
▪ Singhbhum Elephant Reserve is India’s first elephant reserve, created in 2001 under Project Elephant, covering an area of 13,440 sq km.
▪ Currently, there are 33 elephant reserves in India.
▪ Agasthiyamalai Elephant Reserve in Tamil Nadu is the 32nd Elephant Reserves in India.
▪ Terai Elephant Reserve is the latest (33rd) elephant reserve in India.
Elephant Corridor in India
▪ As land for elephants shrinks, the importance of the “Elephant Corridor” has increased significantly. Due to the continuous loss of forest cover, these linear patches of forest and vegetation have become vital natural habitat connections between larger forest patches.
▪ Elephant corridors provide routes for elephants to move freely within their safe habitat without being disturbed by humans.
▪ These corridors are also important for other wildlife species, including India’s endangered national animal, the Royal Bengal Tiger (Panthera tigris), which uses these routes for its movements.
Elephant Corridor Definition
▪ Elephant corridors are narrow strips of land that connect two important habitats for elephants, allowing them to travel long distances in search of food and water.
▪ These corridors are crucial for elephant movement, as they enable the animals to bypass densely populated areas and avoid collisions with humans.
▪ They play an important role in maintaining genetic diversity and promoting ecosystem health by facilitating wildlife movement and seed dispersal.
▪ Unfortunately, many of these corridors are at risk from development and hunting, making their protection a priority The Wildlife Trust of India has identified 101 elephant corridors as part of its National Elephant Corridors project, including twenty in South India, twelve in the Northwest Region, twenty in the Central Region, fourteen in West Bengal and twenty-two in the Northeast.
▪ To ensure a healthy elephant population, it is essential to maintain a continuous network of corridors that allow the animals to move freely. However, this corridor is increasingly threatened by human activity and development.
Threats to Elephant Corridors
▪ Habitat fragmentation and destruction are the results of various human activities, including the construction of buildings, roads, railways, resorts, and the installation of solar-powered electric fencing.
▪ According to experts, coal mining and iron ore mining are the two biggest challenges to maintaining elephant corridors in central India.
▪ The illegal trade of elephant ivory obtained from tusks continues to be a significant issue and contributes to the poaching of elephants.
▪ Due to their large grazing needs, elephants often face a shortage of food in most protected areas. This can lead to conflicts with humans when elephants raid or damage crops outside of these areas.
▪ The problem of poaching has worsened over time and remains a significant threat to elephant populations.
▪ Loss of habitat due to human activities is a major problem facing elephants and other wildlife.
▪ Elephant-human conflict is a growing issue as human populations expand into areas previously occupied by elephants.
▪ The mistreatment of captive elephants is a significant problem that needs to be addressed.
▪ While elephant tourism can generate economic benefits, it can also result in the exploitation and abuse of these animals. Additionally, the damage caused to elephant corridors by mining activities is also a significant threat that needs to be addressed.
List of Elephant Corridors in India
▪ Following are the region-wise numbers of Elephant Corridors in India
- Rawasan-Sonanadi (Via Landsdown)
- South Patlidun-Chilkiya
- Malani Kota
- Buxa-Ripu at Sankosh
North East India
- Pakke-Doimara at Dezling
- Pakke-Papum at Longka Nullah
- Kaziraiiga- Karbi Anglog at Panban
- Kaziraiiga- Karbi Anglong at Kanchanjuri
- Pakke-Doimara at Tipi
- Siju Rewak
- Anaimali at Punachi
- Anaimalai between Siluvaimedu-Kadamparai
- Chamranagar-Talamalai at Muddalialli
- Kalamali – Singara and Avarahalla
- Tirunelli – Kudrakote
- Anaimalai at Waterfalls Estate
Benefits of Elephants for the Ecosystem
▪ Elephants are vital to the ecosystems in which they reside, and here are a few ways they benefit them:
▪ Elephants aid in the dispersal of seeds from the fruits they consume, which can aid in reforestation and promote plant diversity.
▪ They dig waterholes and create pathways that other animals can use, enhancing the interconnectivity of various ecosystem components.
▪ Elephants are also capable of creating habitats for other species by breaking branches and clearing parts of the forest.
▪ By controlling the population sizes of other species through predation on the young or vulnerable, elephants contribute significantly to ecosystem equilibrium.
▪ By trampling and breaking up dry grass and vegetation, elephants can also help to limit the spread of fires. Furthermore, the presence of elephants can stimulate tourism and offer economic advantages to local communities through eco-tourism.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) on Elephant Reserves in India
Answer: 33 (As of October 2022)
◘ Latest 2 Elephant Reserves in India
• 32nd elephant reserve – Agasthiyamalai Elephant Reserve (Tamil Nadu)
• 33rd elephant reserve -Terai Elephant Reserve (Uttar Pradesh)
Answer: Both Tamil Nadu and Assam have 5 elephant reserves.
Earlier there were 4 elephant reserves in Tamil Nadu, but recently one more new elephant reserve named Agasthyamalai was announced.
Answer: Karnataka ((6049)
Answer: Terai Elephant Reserve (Uttar Pradesh)
Answer: Singphan Elephant Reserve (Nagaland)
Anaswer: Elephas maximus indicus
So, here we concluded the Elephant Reserves in India. India is home to a large number of elephants, and protecting their habitat is crucial to their survival. Elephant sanctuaries have been set up across the country to preserve these magnificent animals and their habitats. The government has implemented various conservation measures including community-based conservation, scientific research, and sustainable management practices to protect these reserves. While much remains to be done to protect these gentle giants and their habitats, the efforts made so far have shown promising results and with continued support, we can ensure that these elephant reserves remain a safe haven for elephants for generations to come.
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|File Name||Total Elephant Reserves in India 2023 PDF Download|
|No. of Pages||15|
|Category||Protected Area Network of India|
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