A status report on Nepal’s wild elephant population - 19971997 status report on Nepal’s wild elephant population by Petra Furaha ten Velde.
Digitally transcribed with permission from WWF International by Michael Cordingley 2011.
It must be understood that the wild Asian elephant lives in a densely populated nation of Southeast Asia. Protection of its dwindling populations involves a wide range of conservation aspects, which need equal consideration, will their walk into the coming years be secured. One of the most challenging issues facing protection of their numbers is habitat fragmentation and increasing forest depletion. The elephant stands second to man in its need for land and has similar abilities of depleting its sources when insufficient to its needs. Therefore, continuing forest encroachment and destruction due to human activities, such as illegal settlement in reserve forests, or development projects, are obstructions which hinder their survival. Moreover with habitats shrinking, elephants are forced to wander long distances in order to meet their needs. This may even results in elephants crossing international boundaries, in their search for alternative suitable habitats. Inevitably the elephant comes to stand in increasing conflict with man over land use.
Taking this into consideration, one of the most important needs for the conservation of the Asian elephant is protection of remaining forest. Alternative strategies will need to be implemented will remaining elephant habitats be harboured. This may involve coming up with protected ranges, which serve as linkages between larger protected areas, or reserve forests.
The state of the wild elephant’s of the Indo-Nepalese trans-boundary area can be considered doomed if appropriate action is not taken to understand their status and hence implement conservation schemes accordingly. The western and eastern Indo-Nepal elephants have been neglected in their needs for adequate habitats. With continuous movement taking place across borders, and consequently, the wild elephant number increasing in Nepal, conservation action will need to be implemented.
Habitat destruction today has become the prime cause for increasing elephant dispersal and migration patterns. Whether this is done internally or across country borders, both need to be considered. If elephants are of essence for life, it is our duty to protect remaining natural habitats, even if this means humbling man in his manipulation of the forest. Co-existence remains the leading issue in the safekeeping of the needs of both man and elephant, which has yet to challenge the role of conservation today.
I sincerely hope the report will offer the Government of Nepal and related conservation organisations a better insight into the wild elephant population status of the country.
Petra Furaha ten Velde
August 15, 1997