(In pics) Open corridors render wildlife vulnerable

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Bangalore, July 24: The Western Ghats, a dense habitat of wild animals, is fast receding in area because of increase disruptive activities like mining, and plantation fencing. This has resulted into animals straying into villages and other human habitations.

A matter of serious concern for conservationists and ecologists, the issue is not just about that. The unprotected corridors connecting protected zones in the Western Ghats, used for animals in transition, is fast shrinking. This is endangering migrating animals along the richly bio-deserve belt.

In a study by the Centre for Wildlife Studies (CWS), Bangalore, the institute fixed 21 cameras in the Sindhudurg district corridor to monitor the movement of the migrating animals.

Last prayer

Villagers offer prayers to a dead elephant in Nagaon on Monday. The elephant was electrocuted while crossing an electric line.

In Nagaon

People stand near the body of a wild elephant that died due to electrocution at Jakhalabandha in Nagaon.

In Mumbai

Caretaker mourns the death of Bijli the elephant who died due to prolonged illness in Mumbai.

In Jalpaiguri

Forest officials and villagers stand near the bodies of two among the three elephants killed, after being hit by a speeding train at Moraghat in Jalpaiguri of West Bengal.

In Alipurduar

A forest guard walks past the body of an elephant after it was struck by a train at the Buxa Tiger Reserve, some 12 kms from Alipurduar on Tuesday.

In Tinsukia

Locals gather near a dead female elephant at Upper Dehing forest range in Tinsukia.

In Nagaon

Villagers watch as a herd of wild elephants walk towards them at Nonoi village, in Nagaon on Sunday. At least 80 wild elephants from the nearby Kandoli hills were sighted searching for food.

These cameras have captured images of some of the rarest species of animals migrating to the forest areas here, emphasizing the importance of corridors in the wildlife sanctuaries and forests. "But unfortunately, these corridors are fast changing into human habitation and plantation farms. As a result, the animals stray in the villages and are killed," said Chief Conservator of Forest (wildlife), state forest department M K Rao.

"The corridor in concern is one of the busiest in the region where there is a constrant movement of wild animals. People are of the idea that there is no wildlife beyond the periphery of the protected Areas," Rao said.

Experts opine that these corridors are a source of constant gene flow. Otherwise, the animals would have been locally extinct. Because of the migrating wildlife population, these animals get a scope to breed amongst themselves and take the lineage from there.

In fact, most of he corridors fall in private land, which is why there is an increasing fear that even this could be encroached.

Currently, the Western Ghats is facing the highest anthropogenic pressures in the country. "Conservation challenges are immense, since development is mostly unplanned and prolific," says Girish Punjabi, researcher at the Researchers for Wildlife Conservation that was part of the CWS initiative.

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