An animated address on the plight of the Asian Elephant and the future of India’s wildlife by Vivek Menon from the Wildlife Trust of India (WTI)
The World Land Trust (WLT) has been successfully working in partnership with WTI to secure corridors of land that connect one protected area with another. Wildlife corridors enable Elephants and other impressive Indian species to roam; increasing their gene pool, decreasing animal-human conflict, and ultimately securing their continued survival. At the 'Elephants come to Norwich' event this month, Vivek said:
“You can’t continue to let one billion people live in such close proximity to 65 per cent of the world’s Tigers, 85 per cent of the Elephants in Asia, and 90 per cent of the Rhinos in Asia. These large animals need space, and they will kill you in order to get that space. I have only one solution – give them space.”
To secure the long-term protection of wildlife in India WTI is working to protect 88 small corridors of land, as outlined in their publication Right of Passage. Supporters of WLT have already helped with this vital work by funding the protection of two corridors. We are now working towards securing a third corridor that will connect the Ramnagar Forest Reserve to the famous Corbett National Park and vast Himalayan mountain range. This project, based in the northern state of Uttarakhand, will extend the Corbett Tiger reserve and provide refuge for Elephants, Tigers, Sambar (deer), Indian Marsh Crocodile, and over 575 species of bird. Simon Barnes, environmental journalist and WLT council member, wrote in The Times (Wild Notebook, 4 March 2011):
“This splendid project continues, and the corridors are gradually being secured. When this is completed and all 88 corridors are safe, the Elephants will be all right for the foreseeable future. Huge target, simple concept, great people.”
Why is it such an ambitious target?
Securing land in India is a long and difficult process that directly impacts some of the world’s poorest people. The country has an escalating population of over one billion, combined with soaring economic growth. There is simply not enough land in India to feed its spiralling development. As high-rise buildings spring up in once rural areas, India’s people and wild animals are forced closer together – fighting for space to live. The result is inevitable; there were 500 people killed by Elephants last year, while 200 Elephants were killed by humans. Vivek believes that there is a strong conservation ethic in India that is rooted in the country’s history, culture and religion. So why are people killing Elephants? The answer is simple; 500 people sacrificed a year is just too many and tolerance is weakening. There is one way to end the escalating crisis of animal-human conflict, we must buy land to give India’s people and wild animals space to live. Vivek said:
“In India we are caught in a triangular playing field between the values and ethics we had in the past, the reality of being home to a third of the world’s poor, and the aspiration for nine per cent economic growth. So between these three parameters we must eke out these 88 small pieces of land. We have a very strong conservation past, but an extremely challenging future.”
After the event
Thanks to the event’s supporters:
Jeannie and Philip Millward for hosting the event at the Country & Eastern Emporium, Norwich, and generously donating 10 per cent of all the evening sales to WLT from their treasure-trove of Indian antiques. Author Kevin Price for attending the event and selling copies of his successful children’s book Beauty Contest at the Zoo, with 10 per cent of all sales from his book going to WLT. Thank you to everyone who attended the event for making it such a successful evening, and a special thanks to Vivek for once again sharing his passion and commitment to India’s wildlife.