Supreme Court (SC) upholds the Madras High Court’s 2011 order on the Nilgiris elephant corridor

  • IASbaba
  • October 17, 2020
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Supreme Court (SC) upholds the Madras High Court’s 2011 order on the Nilgiris elephant corridor

  • Recently, the SC upheld the Madras HC’s 2011 order on the Nilgiris elephant corridor. 
  • It affirmed the right of passage of the animals and the closure of resorts in the area.

Key takeaways of the SC Judgement

  • In 2011, the Madras HC had upheld the validity of the Tamil Nadu government’s notification (of 2010) declaring an ‘Elephant Corridor’ in the Sigur Plateau of Nilgiris District.
  • According to SC, it’s the State’s duty to protect a “keystone species” like elephants, which are immensely important to the environment.
  • Elephant corridors allow elephants to continue their nomadic mode of survival, despite shrinking forest cover, by facilitating travel between distinct forest habitats. 
  • These corridors play a crucial role in sustaining wildlife by reducing the impact of habitat isolation.
  • The SC opined that the area is a fragile ecosystem, where the will of men must give way to elephants.
  • The court has also allowed the formation of a committee led by a retired HC judge and two other persons to hear the individual objections of resort owners and private landowners within the corridor space.

Important value additions 

Nilgiris Elephant Corridor

  • It is situated in the ecologically fragile Sigur plateau. 
  • It connects the Western and the Eastern Ghats.
  • It is situated near the Mudumalai National Park in the Nilgiris district.
  • It also has the Nilgiri hills on its southwestern side and the Moyar river valley on its northeastern side.
  • There are about 100 elephant corridors in India of which almost 70% are used regularly.
  • 75% of the corridors are in the southern, central and north-eastern forests.
  • There are an estimated 6,500 elephants in just the Brahmagiri-Nilgiris-Eastern Ghats ranges.

Asian Elephant

  • There are three subspecies of Asian elephant – the Indian, Sumatran and Sri Lankan.
  • The Indian has the widest range and accounts for the majority of the remaining elephants on the continent.
  • Common threats to African and Asian elephants: Escalation of poaching, habitat loss, human-elephant conflict and mistreatment in captivity 
  • IUCN Red List status: (1) African elephants: vulnerable; (2) Asian elephants: endangered.
  • CITES status: (1) Appendix I for Asian Elephants; (2) Appendix II for African elephants in Botswana, Namibia, South Africa and Zimbabwe.
  • Conservation Efforts by India: (1) Project Elephant in 1992 as a Centrally Sponsored Scheme under which Elephant census is conducted once in 5 years; (2) Establishment of elephant reserves; (3) Adoption of the “World Elephant Day” (August 12); (4) Gaj Yatra –  a awareness campaign highlight the necessity of securing elephant corridors; (5) The Monitoring the Illegal Killing of Elephants (MIKE) programme, launched in 2003, is an international collaboration that tracks trends in information related to the illegal killing of elephants from across Africa and Asia, to monitor effectiveness of field conservation efforts.

Do you know?

  • Keystone species: A species that has a disproportionately large effect on the communities in which it lives.

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