Elephant expert N Sivaganesan, who was engaged by the Forest Department, had documented the migratory paths and transit routes of elephants between Coimbatore and Nilambur Elephant Reserve in Kerala. The study aims to identify and provide secured habitats for elephants, conserve their transit routes, ensure safe passage for elephants during migration, besides maintain the gene flow in the elephant landscape and understand the non-forest areas frequented by the jumbos.
All the identified transit routes were in the foot hill areas and were gentle slopes with a gradient of 800 to 1000 metres. Elephants normally avoid hilly tracts. “Most of the migratory routes are bisecting highways. Still the elephants migrate during the respective seasons being influenced by perennial water sources and intact forest tracts.
The study has also indicated that elephants migrate from Walayar to Palakkad and reach up to Bhavanisagar water-spread areas through foothills, river basins and slopes,” said D Venkatesh, District Forest Officer (DF O) of Coimbatore Forest Division The 18 migratory pathways of elephants in the 720 sq km of Coimbatore Forest Division form a crucial conservation unit in this landscape.
“There is an urgent need to conserve the migratory routes of elephants in future to address the human-animal conflict with the participation of all other intergovernmental institutions with new policies by the Forest Department,” he added. The study is also to be used by the Forest Department to undertake camera trap studies for better understanding of the profile of migratory elephants in the Nilambur-Coimbatore Elephant Reserve. This pilot study would also help to understand how the human elephant conflict is linked to these transit routes. The elephant conflict in Coimbatore occurs mostly during the period of North-East monsoon in the ranges of Madukkarai, Coimbatore, Boluvampatti, Periyanaickenpalayam and Karamadai.