Saturday, March 10, 2012

Asian elephant, Elephas maximus, হাতি, a critically endangered species in Bangladesh.

Photo: Sourav Mahmud

Asian elephant or Indian elephant, scientific name Elephas maximus, locally called Hati or Hosti, is the largest and heaviest land mammals of Bangladesh, with long trunk and very broad ears. Looks grey with thick loose, sparsely covered hairy skin. Male is larger than female. Long trunk, sail-like ears that make it an easily recognized animal. Head is very large, neck short, body bulky.
Asian elephants still occur in isolated populations in 13 states, with a very approximate total range area of 486,800 km² (Sukumar 2003; but see Blake and Hedges 2004). The species occurs in Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Nepal, and Sri Lanka in South Asia and Cambodia, China, Indonesia (Kalimantan and Sumatra) Lao PDR, Malaysia (Peninsular Malaysia and Sabah), Myanmar, Thailand, and Viet Nam in South-east Asia. Feral populations occur on some of the Andaman Islands (India).
In Bangladesh, the species was once widespread, but today it is largely restricted to areas that are relatively less accessible to humans. The species occurs in mixed evergreen forests of southeast and northeast Bangladesh including Chittagong, Cox’s Bazar, Teknaf Penninsula and the Chittagong Hill Tracts.It also lives in deciduous forests and adjacent villages in the northern border of Bangladesh. Although, once elephants were found in the forests of Sylhet and Modhupur, now they were found in restricted areas. In addition, some elephants periodically visit in Balijpur and Durgapur areas of Mymensingh, Patharika areas of Sylhet and the New Samanbag area of Maulvi Bazar District under the Sylhet Forest Division in the north-east of the country, coming from the neighbouring Indian states of Tripura, Meghalaya, and Assam.
Status: The Asian Elephant has been categorized as globally endangered (EN) species. However, it is considered as Critically Endangered (CR) in Bangladesh (IUCN Bangladesh 2003).
A recent estimate for the global population size of the Asian elephant was 41,410–52,345 animals Sukumar (2003) The estimated population size for each country was: Bangladesh 150–250; Bhutan 250–500; Cambodia 250–600; China 200–250; India 26,390–30,770; Indonesia 2,400–3,400; Lao PDR 500–1,000; Malaysia 2,100–3,100; Myanmar 4,000–5,000; Nepal 100–125; Sri Lanka 2,500–4,000; Thailand 2,500–3,200; and Viet Nam 70–150 (Sukumar, 2003) .
The pre-eminent threats to the Asian elephant today are habitat loss, degradation, and fragmentation (Leimgruber et al., 2003; Sukumar, 2003; Hedges, 2006), which are driven by an expanding human population, and lead in turn to increasing conflicts between humans and elephants when elephants eat or trample crops. Hundreds of people and elephants are killed annually as a result of such conflicts. The long-term future of elephants outside protected areas, as well as in some protected areas, is therefore inextricably linked to mitigating such human–elephant conflicts, and this is one of the largest conservation challenges in Asia today (Sukumar, 1992, 2003; Hedges 2006).
Asian elephants live in the region of the world with the densest human population, growing at a rate of between 1–3% per year. Because elephants require much larger areas of natural habitat than most other terrestrial mammals in Asia, they are one of the first species to suffer the consequences of habitat fragmentation and destruction and because of its great size and large food requirements; the elephant cannot co-exist with people in areas where agriculture is the dominant form of land-use. In extreme cases, elephants have been confined as so called ‘pocketed herds’ in small patches of forest in landscapes dominated by man. Such ‘pocketed herds’ represent an extreme stage in the human–elephant conflict (Olivier, 1978). In other cases elephants have been caught and taken to so-called Elephant Training Centres where they languish, lost to the wild population (Hedges et al., 2005, 2006).
 Poaching is a major threat to elephants in Asia too, although reliable estimates of the number of elephants killed and the quantities of ivory and other body parts collected and traded are scarce (Sukumar et al., 1998; Milliken, 2005).

Fence of Barbed wire in Bangladesh-India Border, the death-trap of Asian Elephants: India made the fence of barbed wire at the Bangladesh-India border and it restricts the route of Asian Elephants. The elephants those periodically visit Meghalya state of India to greater Mymensing of Bangladesh is now confined to a limited area. The elephants can’t move freely on their route. The barbed wire is now becomes the death trap for the elephants. A report of a newspaper the daily Swajan of Mymensingh in 17 February, 2012 reported that a group of elephants are now confined in Bangladesh area and can’t revisit Indian parts. The food crisis of the elephants is now in extreme situation. The monoculture plantation projected by Asian Development Bank also destroyed the foods of elephants.
Human expansion to the Garo hills threatened the elephants. The density of human is another cause of food crises for elephants. In the first week of March, 2012, near about 600 home destroyed in the Garo hills area by the elephants. It is the crying need to remove the villages from the area of elephants and remake the forests for wild species.

মানুষের তাণ্ডবে বন্য হাতিরা তীব্র আতংকে; আমাদের দাবি শেরপুর জেলার নালিতাবাড়ী উপজেলা ও ময়মনসিংহ জেলার হালুয়াঘাট উপজেলার সীমান্ত অঞ্চল থেকে লোকজনকে অন্যত্র পুনর্বাসন করা হোক যাতে হাতিরা নির্বিঘ্নে চলাচল করতে পারে। হাতির তাণ্ডব নিয়ে একটি লেখা পড়ুন লিংক থেকে

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