Champions to Feed Odisha Elephants

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As forest resources in Odisha rapidly dwindle due to development pressures, distressed and famished elephants are forced to enter villages and cropland in search of food, by crossing major highways. This is intensifying human elephant conflict and causing an unprecedented number of elephant deaths by vehicle collisions. Restoring degraded habitats with favored elephant plant species will provide safe foraging grounds for elephants and prevent them from crossing treacherous roads to find food.

Human-elephant conflict is escalating in Dhenkanal district, with an alarming rise in senseless tragedies, mainly caused by the decimation of prime elephant habitats and a decline in elephant forage species. Consequently, distressed elephants are forced to cross national highways and villages in search of food leading to fatal collisions with speeding vehicles. Some of the factors fuelling the destruction include development, tree felling for timber, and nontimber products collection for humans.

Part of the plan involves the purchase of a 1-acre-plot of land to create a plant nursery and grow 50,000 to 60,000 seedlings of elephant fodder plants, such as Bauhinia vines, jackfruit, and mango. Our site-specific strategy in the Dhenkanal region of Odisha will enable us to nurture and protect saplings from cattle grazing and fire damage for at least two growing seasons. Once the plants mature, we will engage Odisha forest department and local people to plant them in the surrounding forests.

Curbing elephant deaths by growing elephant fodder and planting them inside their habitats could prevent elephants from crossing treacherous highways. It is a proactive rather than a reactive measure to safeguard elephants and mitigate human-elephant conflict. In collaboration with our local partner Wildlife Protection Society of India -WPSI we will engage villagers and the forest department to help cultivate stewardship of elephants and their habitats paving the way to a harmonious coexistence.

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The seeds that we nurtured for elephants are now sprouting 🌱🐘🌱🐘🌱

Just LOOK AT THESE AWESOME SAPLINGS!  Indeed, these are the sprouts of our team’s hard labor in Odisha where we are cultivating elephant friendly fodder.

In order to restore key elephant habitats that have been depleted by human actions, we collaborated with Wildlife Protection Society of India, and planted elephant friendly fodder trees such as wood apple, mango, jackfruit, bamboo and careya, and creepers like marda and bauhinia, around the Taal–Kholagarh Elephant Corridor. 

 

📌 A total of 11,000 seedlings were reared! We also cultivated a buffer seedling stock of 1,000. The mature saplings were transported to the depleted forest and planted in an approximate area of 12 acres with fodder trees and vines, in our efforts to rehabilitate core elephant habitats.

📍 Over 90% of the seedlings have survived. A “caution" flex board will be installed around the plantation to ensure they are protected from outside interference, including cattle grazing.

 

This project is aimed at providing necessary conditions inside the forest patch so elephants would not have to cross the treacherous roads to find food. We could not have done this without the generous support of our donors.