GUWAHATI, Aug 16 - Assam�s Balipara Foundation has signed an MoU with the Asian Nature Conservation Foundation (ANCF) of Bengaluru to study the migratory behaviour of Asian elephants in the Kaziranga-Karbi Anglong landscape.
The MoU was signed between Prof Raman Sukumar, founder and managing trustee, ANCF, and Robin Eastment, operations executive at Balipara Foundation, on Thursday.
The project will study the ranging behaviour 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 around 1,200 individuals (according to censuses conducted by the Forest Department in recent years, the last being done in 2012).
A characteristic feature of the elephant population of north-eastern India is that a notable proportion of the males are tuskless (in Kaziranga, about 50 per cent of all mature males are tuskless, and over two-thirds of the oldest males are tuskless, thus making them immune to poaching for ivory. The adult male-female ratios of the Kaziranga elephant population is consequently among the least skewed in India, conferring high genetic variability and potential on this populace.
�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 and ANCF will bring in the diversity of knowledge to address conservation issues on the ground. We hope to execute projects that create inter-dependencies between people and wildlife�, Robin Eastment said.
Kaziranga is part of a larger landscape that extends southward into the Karbi Anglong hills. These hills are the lifeline of the wildlife of Kaziranga during the monsoon period. With the rising floodwaters of the Brahmaputra, most of the animals are forced to move to higher ground. Most of the land is settled to the south of the park, 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 because of the existing land use and highway traffic, 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.
As part of this mandate towards the Asian Elephant Conservation, the Balipara Foundation is also organizing the second international conference �Elephant Talk� on November 5 and 6 in Guwahati. The conference will be followed by the third 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 and ATREE.