Forgotten Elephants of Odisha

Work has already begun in Odisha, with VFAES, in partnership with Wildlife Protection Society of India (WPSI), are leading a team of local conservationists to steer knowledge-driven elephant conservation actions in some of the most vulnerable regions of the state. Over the long term, our aim is to secure a future for Odisha’s forgotten elephants, by promoting a harmonious and respectful human elephant co-existence.

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Odisha is an elephant range state, where fragmented forests arduously support an estimated 2,000 wild Asian elephants along with a growing number of people dependent on forest resources. There are approximately 45 million people in Odisha, many living along the forest fringes and corridors that elephants have established over thousands of years. The inevitable encounters with elephants lead to conflict and an alarming number of deaths, as elephants and humans struggle for limited resources.

 

Developmental activities such as illegal mining in prime habitats, highly invasive and poorly planned infrastructure, land diversions, and even forest fires add to the friction as they cause irreversible damage to this elephant landscape. Furthermore, rampant poaching by local gangs has a direct impact on the breeding populations of elephants in the region, as they target the bull elephants with tusks.

VFAES is implementing the following strategies:

  • Prevent electrocution by wire traps and electrified fences

  • Monitor eight important corridors, out of the 14 identified

  • Monitor and address multiple threats to elephants in key habitats in Dhenkanal, Angul & Keonjhar districts

  • Fodder planting in the Taal–Kholagarh Elephant Corridor

  • Protect elephant habitat from forest fires

  • Awareness and education for school children and key stakeholders

  • Engage local communities

Despite the unprecedented challenges, Odisha still offers perhaps the best chance of securing a future for Asian elephants in Eastern India. The funds for this project was raised during a virtual weekend event called “The Forgotten Elephants of Odisha”, with Dr. Jane Goodall (DBE, Founder the Jane Goodall Institute) as our keynote speaker. Check out this blog for details.