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Context: A new study has identified important elephant connectivity areas and found that the trunked animals prefer areas close to forests with low human population densities.
Elephant connectivity areas
- Connectivity is critical for the wide-ranging Asian elephant.
- The average size of protected areas in India is less than 300 sq. km, comparable to the average home range of a single elephant herd.
- Connectivity conservation was also important for other species, and identifying corridors for species such as the Asian elephant could potentially aid the movement of tigers, hog deer and other animals as well.
- Human activity and land-use change have severely restricted animal movement globally, by 50-67% on an average.
- Emphasising the need to identify animal corridors and ensure that wildlife connectivity was maintained in the face of ongoing environmental and land-use change.
- It is distributed througout the Indian subcontinent and Southeast Asia, from India in the west, Nepal in the north, Sumatra in the south, and to Borneo in the east.
- The Asian elephant is the largest living land animal in Asia.
- Since 1986, the Asian elephant has been listed as Endangered on the IUCN Red List.
- Elephant is National Heritage animal of India.
- It is primarily threatened by loss of habitat, habitat degradation, fragmentation and poaching.
- The Asian elephant is listed on CITES Appendix I.
- CITES (the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora, also known as the Washington Convention) is a multilateral treaty to protect endangered plants and animals.
Monitoring the Illegal Killing of Elephants (MIKE) programme :
- It is an international collaboration that measures the levels, trends and causes of elephant mortality, thereby providing an information base to support international decision-making related to conservation of elephants in Asia and Africa.
- The MIKE Programme was established by the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) by Resolution 10.10 adopted at the tenth Conference of the Parties in 1997.
- There are currently 28 sites participating in the MIKE programme in Asia, distributed across 13 countries: India has 10 sites, followed by two sites each in Cambodia, Indonesia, Lao PDR, Malaysia, Myanmar and Thailand, and one site each in Bangladesh, Bhutan, China, Nepal, Sri Lanka and Viet Nam.
- Project Elephant has been formally implementing MIKE (Monitoring of Illegal Killing of Elephants) programme of CITES in 10 ERs since January 2004.
- It is mandated by COP resolution of CITES.