Terai Arc Landscape - securing corridors, curbing poaching and mitigating HWC

Geographical location:

Asia/Pacific > Southern Asia > India

Grasslands in the Terai support a large number of grazing herbivores. One of the species that depend on grasslands is the greater one-horned rhinoceros (Rhinoceros unicornis).
© WWF-Canon / Helena Telkanranta

Summary

The Terai Arc Landscape contains spectacular forests, savannahs and grasslands, providing vital habitat for three endangered large mammals: tiger, elephant and rhinoceros.

This project will focus on restoring wildlife corridors, poaching and mitigation of human/wildlife conflict (HWC). These activites will have an overall positive impact on wildlife and will be focused on the states of Uttarakhand and Uttar Pradesh.

Background

The Terai Arc Landscape (TAL) is spread over approximately 49,500 sq km and stretches from Nepal’s Bagmati river in the east to India’s Yamuna river in the west. TAL in India covers approximately 30,000 sq km across the states of Uttarakhand, Uttar Pradesh and Bihar. This area of India is about 50% forested.

Vegetation in TAL-India consists of sal forests, sal mixed forests, riverine forests, mixed forests, grasslands and open scrubs. Some of the charismatic mega-fauna in TAL-India includes tiger (Panthera tigris), Asiatic elephant (Elephas maximus), great Indian one-horned rhinoceros (Rhinoceros unicornis), swamp deer (Cervus duvauceli duvauceli) and the Gangetic dolphin (Platanista gangetica). TAL is also drained by major rivers such as Sharda, Kosi, Ramganga, Gandak, Bagmati, Sonanadi, Rapti, and Saryu.

TAL in India has 9 protected areas (PAs) which are Rajaji National Park, Corbett National Park and Tiger Reserve, Sonanadi Wildlife Sanctuary, Kishanpur Wildlife Sanctuary, Dudhwa National Park and Tiger Reserve, Katerniaghat Wildlife Sanctuary, Suhelwa Wildlife Sanctuary, Sohagibarwa Wildlife Sanctuary and Valmiki National Park and Tiger Reserve covering a total area of 4,500 sq km.

TAL in India is among the most densely populated rural areas in the country as more than 20 million people reside here (2001 census). During the last two decades the population in TAL has increased by as much as 54.2%, which is 9% above the national average. Most of the poorer communities depend on the forest for their subsistence. Firewood, fodder and grass for thatching and rope making are the most significant resources extracted from the forests. Wild fruits, honey, medicinal plants, and leaves are some non-timber forest products (NTFPs) which are also extracted from the forests and these also contribute to the household economy of rural populations.

Natural resource based occupations are predominant across TAL-India. Only 7% of the population uses purchased fuel such as liquefied petroleum gas (LPG), coal and kerosene in the entire TAL-India, the remainder using fuel wood collected from the forests.

This landscape faces several threats like loss of wildlife and its habitat at an alarming rate. Habitat degradation and fragmentation due to biotic pressures and developmental activities are causing immense damage to the TAL. Livelihoods of millions of people are also at risk, as the natural resources in the TAL provide a means of income as well as vital ecological services, which are being lost as the landscape is further degraded. There are direct threats to wildlife in terms of poaching and conflicts with humans. There are tribes who have been hunting animals as a tradition and many of these still continue to do so. Meager amounts are offered to the villagers residing near forests by organized poachers to kill animals. On the other hand when the wild animals move out of the forest areas due to shrinking of natural habitat and come in conflict with the local people, most of the time it is the animal which loses out in the fight. Species which are already stripped of their habitats often face retaliatory killing.

The main threats to wildlife conservation in the Indian part of TAL include corridor degradation; poaching, illegal extraction of natural resources and wildlife trade; high levels of human wildlife conflict; lack of participation from the local people; inappropriate policies and inadequate infrastructure support for implementing the wildlife conservation measures by the state departments. The root causes of some of these problems include limited capacity within the Forest Department (particularly staff outside the PA system, i.e. in the territorial forest divisions) to undertake effective wildlife conservation measures in the critical wildlife corridors and tackle the illegal wildlife trade. Another underlying cause of habitat degradation is weak community institutions and limited alternative livelihoods which lead to over-extraction of forest resources.

Objectives

- Secure critical wildlife corridors within TAL-India;
- Curb wildlife poaching and illegal wildlife trade in TAL-India;
- Mitigate human-wildlife conflict in TAL-India; and
- Build strong community based institutions.

Solution

WWF-India proposes to work with the forest department and other government agencies securing critical corridors and curbing poaching and illegal wildlife trade. It will work with the forest department, local administration and with local communities and community based organizations to mitigate human-wildlife conflict. WWF will also work on the building of a community based institution for wildlife conservation.

Achievement

1. Moved the Central and State Government to secure Gola wildlife corridor.
2. Working with different stakeholders for reducing wildlife trade.
3. Human - wildlife conflict mitigated substantially around the Corbett Tiger Reserve.

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