Balipara Foundation collaborates with Proff. Raman Sukumar to study Elephants in Kaziranga

News Report- 14th August 15

Assam based organization Balipara Foundation has executed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the Asian Nature Conservation Foundation (ANCF) of Bangalore to study migration behavior of Asian Elephants in the Kaziranga- Karbi Anglong Landscape. The MoU was signed on the 13th of August between Proff. Raman Sukumar, Founder & Managing Trustee at ANCF and Mr. Robin Eastment, Operations Executive at Balipara Foundation. The Project will study the ranging behaviours of Elephants through the use of Radio Collars. Plans are on to ‘collar’ at least four Elephants.

The elephant population of Kaziranga National Park has been estimated at about 1200 individuals (according to censuses conducted by the forest department in recent years, the last being in 2012). This is thus a very significant population of the total Asian elephant population. “One characteristic feature of the elephant population of North-eastern India is that a notable proportion of the males are tusk less (in Kaziranga about 50% of all mature males are tusk less, and over two-thirds of the oldest males are tusk less thus making them immune to poaching for ivory. The adult male to female ratios of the Kaziranga elephant population is consequently among the least skewed in India, conferring high genetic variability and potential Kaziranga is part of a larger landscape that extends south into the Karbi Anglong hills. These hills are the lifeline of the wildlife of Kaziranga during the monsoon period. With the rising flood waters of the Brahmaputra, most of the animals are forced to move to higher ground. To the south of the park, most of the land is settled and is either under tea or paddy cultivation. A major highway also runs parallel to the southern boundary of the park. The result is that the free movement of wildlife including elephants is curtailed from the existing land use and the traffic on the highway, placing them at risk during the period of high floods each year. At the same time, the elephants also face the risk of being poached in the Karbi Anglong hills in the absence of any meaningful protection of this region that comes under the political control of the Karbi Anglong Autonomous District Council within the state of Assam” , reiterated Proff Sukumar, one of the leading authorities on Asian Elephants in the world.

Robin Eastment of Balipara Foundation added “Although three main corridors have been identified, there has been no investigation of the actual intensity of use of these corridors by elephants and of the ranging pattern of elephants in the Karbi Anglong hills during the monsoon. Indeed, there has been no conservation planning at the scale of the Kaziranga – Karbi Anglong landscape to determine the minimum area of habitat in the unprotected Karbi Anglong hills that is necessary to secure the long-term future of this elephant population. Such conservation planning and implementation is necessarily a long drawn process that involves a number of steps involving several projects and stakeholders”

Earlier in the year, Balipara Foundation initiated a Population-level assessment of elephant (and other wildlife movement) between Kaziranga and Karbi Anglong using *occupancy sampling and modeling*. WCS-India Program are the Scientific partners to the program, which is also being supported by the APPL Foundation. “We want to bring in the best-in class scientific knowledge and operational know-how towards conservation of biodiversity in the Eastern Himalayas. Our collaborations with both WCS & ANCF will bring in the diversity of knowledge to address conservation issues on the ground. We hope to execute projects that create interdependencies between people & wildlife”, added Mr. Robin Eastment of Balipara Foundation.

Earlier in the year, Balipara Foundation initiated a Population-level assessment of elephant (and other wildlife movement) between Kaziranga and Karbi Anglong using *occupancy sampling and modeling*. WCS-India Program are the Scientific partners to the program, which is also being supported by the APPL Foundation. “We want to bring in the best-in class scientific knowledge and operational know-how towards conservation of biodiversity in the Eastern Himalayas. Our collaborations with both WCS & ANCF will bring in the diversity of knowledge to address conservation issues on the ground. We hope to execute projects that create interdependencies between people & wildlife”, added Mr. Robin Eastment of Balipara Foundation.

As part of this mandate towards Asian Elephant Conservation, the Balipara Foundation is also organizing an International Conference titled “Elephant Talk 2015”. The 2nd Edition of this Conference is scheduled on the 5th & 6th of November 2015 in Guwahati, Assam. The conference will be followed by the 3rd Edition of the Balipara Foundation Awards. The events are being organized in partnership with WWF, WTI, WCS, IUCN, Club of Rome, APPL Foundation, Sanctuary Asia & ATREE.

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