Lemru Elephant Reserve
Location of Lemru Elephant Reserve
Korba district, Chattisgarh
Aim of Lemru Elephant Reserve
To reduce human-animal conflict and destruction of property
To provide a permanent habitat for the elephants.
The proposal was passed unanimously by the Assembly in 2005 and got central approval in 2007.
Lemru is one of two elephant reserves planned to prevent human-animal conflict in the region,
with elephants moving into Chhattisgarh from Odisha and Jharkhand.
Present Issue of Lemru Elephant Reserve
The Chhattisgarh government proposed to significantly reduce the size of Lemru Elephant Sanctuary from 1,995 square kilometers to just 450 square kilometers.
The Lemru Elephant Sanctuary was established by the Center in 2007, and in 2019, the state government decided to expand it from 450 sq km to 1,995 sq km.
Reason for Reducing Size of Lemru Elephant Reserve
The area proposed under the reserve is part of the Hasdeo Aranya forests, a very diverse biozone that is also rich in coal deposits.
Of 22 coal blocks in the area, seven have already been allotted with mines running in three, and in the process of being established in the other four.
Under the ‘No-Go Area’ policy from the UPA area, the entire area was considered out of bound for mines, but in 2020, five coal blocks from the region were put on the auction list.
The biggest challenge in increasing the reserve area was that several coal mines would become unusable.
In its latest letter, the government has said the decision to reduce the area is because of requests from villagers and public representatives. However, several villages have already given their consent to acquisition of their land.
Government’s stand on the proposed and allotted mines
The state government has removed the five coal blocks put in the auction list in 2020, noting that these areas would fall under the proposed reserve.
It has also objected to the Centre’s recent notification on the land acquisition process of some areas under the Coal Bearing Areas (Acquisition and Development) Act, and said the Centre was infringing on the state’s decision to set up the reserve.
The land acquisition process has begun in Kete Basan and Parsa coal blocks, which are around the reserve, even as tribals have protested against it.
Significance of Reserve
Elephants are found in five divisions of the state. North Chhattisgarh alone is a home to over 240 elephants. More than 150 elephants have died in the state over the last 20 years, including 16 between June and October 2020.
Elephants in Chhattisgarh are relatively new, they started moving into undivided Madhya Pradesh in 1990.
While MP had a policy of pushing back the animals coming from Jharkhand, after Chhattisgarh was formed, the lack of a formal policy allowed elephants to use as a corridor a route in the north and central parts of the state.
Since these animals were relatively new, human-animal conflict started once elephants started straying into inhabited areas, looking for food.
Elephants are a key species.
There are three subspecies of Asian elephants: the Indian elephant, the Sumatran elephant, and the Sri Lankan elephant. Indian elephants have the widest range and represent the majority of the continent’s remaining elephant population.
Conservation status of Indian elephants
Wildlife Protection Act 1972: Schedule I
IUCN Red List: Endangered
CITES: Appendix I
India’s Elephant Conservation Initiative
Gaj Yatra: A national campaign to protect elephants has been launched on the occasion of World Elephant Day 2017.
Project Elephant: This is a centrally sponsored program launched in 1992.
Seed bombs: Recently, the Athagarh Forest Department in Odisha has started throwing seed balls (or bombs) in different forest areas of the reserve to enrich the food sources of wild elephants to prevent conflicts between humans and elephants.
Right of passage of animals: Recently, the Supreme Court (SC) upheld the 2011 order of the Madras High Court (HC) on the Nilgiris Elephant Corridor, upholding the right of passage of animals and closing the resort center in the area. International initiatives aimed at elephant conservation:
The Monitoring Illegal Killing of Elephants (MIKE), launched in 2003, is an international collaborative program to monitor information trends related to the illegal killing of elephants in Africa and Asia. Asia, to monitor the effectiveness of conservation efforts on the ground.
Other Protected Areas in Chhattisgarh
Guru Ghasi Das (Sanjay) National Park
Indravati National Park
Kangerghati National Park
Sitanadi-Udanti Tiger Reserve
Badalkhol Tamor Pingla Elephant Reserve
Achanakmar Wildlife Sanctuary
Barnawapara Wildlife Sanctuary
Bhairamgarh Wildlife Sanctuary
Bhoramdev Wildlife Sanctuary
Pamed Wildlife Sanctuary
Sarangarh-Gomardha Wildlife Sanctuary
Semarsot Wildlife Sanctuary
Tamorpingla Wildlife Sanctuary
Udanti Wildlife Sanctuary