Proposed Lemru Elephant Reserve in Chhattisgarh
- The state Forest and Environment Department asked the Principal Chief Conservator of Forests (Wildlife) to make a presentation for decreasing the area of the proposed reserve from 1,995 sq km to 450 sq km.
Lemru Elephant Reserve
- The proposed Lemru Elephant Reserve in Chhattisgarh, in the pipeline for 20 years, has become the subject of controversy.
- The state Forest and Environment Department has asked the Principal Chief Conservator of Forests (Wildlife) to make a presentation for decreasing the area of the proposed reserve from 1,995 sq km to 450 sq km.
- This has run into opposition.
What is Lemru Elephant Reserve?
- The proposal for the reserve, 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.
Why does the government want to reduce the size of the reserve?
- The area proposed under the reserve is part of the Hasdeo Aranya forests, a very diverse biozone that is also rich in coal
- 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.
- The biggest challenge in increasing the reserve area is that several coal mines would become unusable.
Why is the reserve important?
- 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.
What happened to the other proposed elephant reserve?
- Badalkhol Tamorpingla, the other elephant reserve measuring 1048.30 sq km, was notified in September 2011.
- Tamorpingla wildlife sanctuary exists in the state but no work on the elephant reserve has begun.
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