Thursday, 8 December 2016

Nilgiris Biosphere Reserve -- Asian Elephant Paradise ??

The Nilgiris  of South India harbour unique and threatened ecosystems which despite years of study are still capable of throwing up new surprises for naturalists.

As, India staggers under the burden of savaged forests and decimated wildlife nature continues to be marginalised and fragmented. Where once, continuous grasslands, wetlands, and forests clothed its land, we see only violated wilderness now.

The unique geography of the Nilgiris is however, still holding on to its tenuous character despite all trauma it has faced. This is because a sizable chunk is still under forest cover under whose canopy a variety of mammals thrive.

Barring perhaps, North - East India, there is no region in India where such a large contiguous forest area still exists.

More than 10,000 Asian Elephants roam its verdant surroundings. This is the largest Asian Elephant population in the wild in the world.

This entire region was constituted as the Nilgiri Biosphere Reserve in the 1980's with the hope that a comprehensive conservation strategy could be evolved and adapted to protect this valuable wilderness.

This is in acknowledgment of the fact that despite being divided between 3 States that is Tamil Nadu, Kerala, and Karnataka, the Bio- Geographic Zone is a distinct and cohesive entity.

The Nilgiris Biosphere Reserve or NBR encompasses the National Parks of Nagarahole, Mudumalai, Bandipur, Silent Valley, Mukurthi, and Wayanad. Besides, these a number of biodiversity rich "Reserve Forests" are encompassed by NBR.

As Forests and Elephant Populations are threatened with fragmentation, their survival is in question as the genetic viability of both is clearly endangered. Already, the poaching of male elephants has caused the male- female ratio to go awry.

Bull Elephants must navigate between Northern NBR that is Mudumalai, Bandipur, and Wayanad, Eastern NBR that is Billiranga Hills and Eastern Ghats and Southern NBR namely Silent Valley to keep their genetic stock going.

This movement can take place only through the thorn forests of the Eastern Side and so the protection of this habitat assumes even more significance.

The inter- related nature of Forests and Elephants can be ascertained from the result of a study which established that 17 species of Plants and Trees in this scrub jungle germinate well only when their seeds pass through the alimentary canal of these magnificent pachyderms.

The entire ecosystem is one complex entity.

Where things have become precarious, wildlife corridors at least must now be preserved for continuity.

All in All, it has to be said that Asian Elephants and their habitat in the Nilgiris Ecosystem is gravely threatened and imperilled specially by Developers and by Mining Companies.

Only Nature Lovers and God himself can save the Nilgiris from complete destruction.

Credits and References :

Sanctuary Asia Magazine
Shredding the Nilgiris
Pages 30-37


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