Wildlife corridors, the solution to human elephant conflict?
We have a look at the increasing popularity of wildlife corridors in HEC mitigation.
The concept of creating wildlife corridors is becoming popular in many Asian countries, not only India.
Corridors serve many purposes and we had a look at them:
- Repopulating “empty” habitat; this is very interesting and successful, wildlife is actually using the corridors to repopulate habitats.
- preserving genetic diversity within species is probably the most important aspect in the long term. Today’s fragmented habitats with small isolated populations will lead to inbreeding in the medium and long term.
- Aiding seasonal wildlife migration. absolutely necessary, but the “new” habitat needs to be able to accommodate the additional wildlife.
- Human Elephant Conflict mitigation: following India’s example, other Asian governments and some NGO’s believe that corridors are helping in HEC mitigation. In reality this is not always correct. Human Elephant Conflict is created by low quality habitat, usually it lacks one or more criteria: FOOD, WATER, SECURITY. Connecting a “bad” habitat with a “good” habitat will reduce HEC in the short term, but will likely result in the deterioration of the “good” habitat and ultimately increased Human Elephant Conflict Connecting a “bad ” habitat with another “bad” habitat will definitely increase HEC in both short and long term.
What to do?
Before starting corridors, all habitats need to be assessed properly:
- Habitat quality according to the criteria FOOD, WATER, SECURITY.
- Elephant population size in all areas to be connected.
- Carrying capacities in all areas to be connected.
- If habitat quality is insufficient or combined populations are higher than carrying capacity habitat improvement has to be carried out first. Over-population will lead to habitat destruction! Andy Merk, Nani Fouad August 8. 2017