Conservation issues

Habitats and corridors

Steady inroads to meet the needs of an increasing human population and economic development has resulted in significant loss and fragmentation of the elephant habitat. As elephant habitats have been fragmented, the pathways connecting them—called corridors—have become increasingly important for allowing elephants to access resource. But anthropogenic pressures have also contributed to extreme degradation of large parts of elephant corridors. As per the latest estimate, 101 elephant corridors exist in the country, with many facing the threat of being cut off.

Conflict with humans:

Human-elephant conflicts are increasingly becoming common. They lead to the death and injury of human beings and retaliatory killings of elephants. This is amongst the biggest threats to the survival of Asian elephants in the wild. As their habitat has been fragmented and degraded, elephants raid plantations and crop fields in their quest for food or move between forest patches. A single elephant can devastate a small farmer’s crop holding in one feeding raid, bringing them in direct conflict with farmers living in and around elephant habitats. It is estimated that approximately 400-500 people die in an encounter with wild elephants in India. Over 60 elephants are also killed due to conflicts.


Even with suitable habitats, poaching remains a threat to elephants. Since only males have tusks, poaching has resulted in a highly skewed male-female ratio in many areas. Poaching for meat, skin and other products like tail hair also threatens elephant populations, especially in northeast India. In 1989, the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) banned the International Trade in Ivory. However, there are still some thriving but unmonitored domestic ivory markets in several Asian and other countries that fuel the illegal international trade in ivory.

Other challenges:

On-ground challenges include accidental deaths due to train hits, accidental electrocutions, harm to elephants from crude bombs used to kill wild pigs, and falls into bottomless pits, wells, and trenches.

© Ravi Kumar/WWF India
Tusker 'Rivaldo'
© Ravi Kumar/WWF India
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