Human Pollution in India Squeezing Elephants into ever Shrinking Area
The presence of elephants has shrunk to less than half of the forests in India,s Karnataka’s Western Ghats due to anthropogenic factors, a recent study shows.
The Western Ghats are home to thousands of animal species including at least 325 globally threatened species.
According to the study, “human disturbances” has affected elephant habitat occupancy as well as site-level detectability.
Across the 38,000 sq km Malenadu landscape in Western Ghats which include 14 wildlife reserves, a team of scientists from Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) and Centre for Wildlife Studies mapped distribution of the population of the elephants.
The results, published recently, showed that elephants occupied around only 13,000 sq km of the 38,000 sq km due to the fact that environmental pollution and human activity such as settlements or intensive agriculture, made over 17,000 sq km unsuitable for the elephants.
“We found that human caused pollution predominated over natural habitat attributes in determining elephant occupancy, underscoring the conservation need to regulate them. Human disturbances affected elephant habitat occupancy as well as site-level detectability.
While mapping elephant distribution, they also factored possible non-detection of elephants during field surveys, thereby establishing a reliable protocol to study elephant distribution.
“We took into account the simple fact that we may not actually end up seeing elephants or signs of their presence even if they are present at a location,” explained Devcharan Jathanna, lead author of the study.PTI