Elephant Corridor in India complete with help from Planckendael

Summary

Planckendael animal park has been instrumental in getting a strip of land in southern India protected to allow elephants to pass from one habitat to another

Saving the Asian elephant

Planckendael animal park in Mechelen has announced the completion of an Elephant Corridor in southern India. The corridor allows elephants to travel safely from one habitat to another through an area that is increasingly turning into farmland.

Planckendael bought a crucial piece of land in order to support the Brahmagiri-Tirunelli Elephant Corridor run by the Asian Nature Conservation Foundation (ANCF). Together with the foundation, the animal park purchased a five-kilometre long, two-kilometre wide corridor to prevent it being used by agricultural interests.

Asian elephants are under constant threat by encroaching agriculture, one of the two main reasons the population is endangered (the other is poaching). As the elephants roaming area is blocked, they become isolated in smaller and smaller areas, not able to reach food sources and weakened by inbreeding.

The corridor is situated between two mountains, and Asian elephants from the surrounding rainforests need to reach the foot of these mountains during the dry season to partake of lush grasses and water sources. The corridor now makes this free passage possible.

Preventing conflicts

“Humans and elephants are competing for the same ground,” said Planckendael zoological director Linda Van Elsacker. “When they run into each other, this is dangerous for both parties. We have solved this problem by offering the farmers a different piece of ground.”

The ANCF has identified more than 100 corridors in India that elephants use and are crucial to their survival. Many of them have been similarly purchased through agreements with local farmers and governments.

“The support of Planckendael was invaluable in negotiating and purchasing the land” for the Brahmagiri-Tirunelli corridor, said Raman Sukumar of ANCF, “ as well as later in finding a legal framework to transfer the land to the government and get it declared as protected. Now this corridor can no longer be used for anything else.”

Planckendael is home to a family of Asian elephants, including Kai-Mook, the first baby elephant ever born in Belgium. Asian elephants are an endangered species, with some 44,000 making up the population in the Indian subcontinent and South-East Asia.

Photo courtesy Planckendael

Planckendael

Together with Antwerp Zoo, Planckendael is one of Flanders’ two major animal parks. Located in Mechelen, the park was originally established as a refuge for tired and injured animals from the Antwerp Zoo.
History - In 1956, the Royal Society of Animals of Antwerp (KMDA) bought the Planckendael estate, which was built in 1780. The animal park opened four years later.
Expansion - As part of a new €5-million master plan, Planckendael recently introduced a new theme continent (America), updated several animal complexes and grounds and is welcoming entirely new species starting this year.
Sustainable - Every year since 2011, the park has been awarded the Green Key international eco-label for its sustainability efforts. It is one of only nine attractions in Flanders to carry the label.
42

surface area in hectares

810 000

annual visitors in 2012

33

Flemish government KMDA subsidy for 2012-2016 period in millions of euros