Wildlife Corridors, which maintain biodiversity concede populations to interbreed, better long-term genetic viability and cater access to larger habitats, are very important because they increase the effective amount of habitat that is procurable for these species. This is particularly important for migratory animals and those having large home ranges like elephants.
However, wildlife corridors need special management practices that can endorse the requirements of the species which use the corridors. These wildlife corridors must be managed with great caution because they are very much defenseless.
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The Coimbatore Forest Division
The Coimbatore district in Tail Nadu is enriched with hills, forests, rivers and wildlife. In the corridors of Coimbatore Forest Division, which comes under the Project Elephant Reserve No.8, elephants can be seen wandering in small herds in Walayar and Bolampathy Valleys, Anaikatti reserve forests, etc.
The Coimbatore Forest Division is a part of the Nilgiri Biosphere Reserve (NBR); it also forms part of the core zone of the Reserve. The Coimbatore Forest Division passes significant numbers of elephant population and is among the eleven Elephant Reserves in India and one among four in Tamil Nadu.
However, everyone, and not only wildlife lovers, should come to face the truth that elephants presently face danger to their existence because of the loss of habitat, habitat manipulation, anthropogenic pressure and loss of corridors.
The wildlife corridors are responsible for the movements of animals and gene flow amongst the habitats or forests for a better and healthy population of elephants. Loss of wildlife corridors limits the fauna and flora into small pockets of habitats or forests.
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There are, in the Coimbatore Forest Division, six important elephant wildlife corridors are:
Kalkothi – Walyar Corridor
As one of the major wildlife corridors, this corridor commences from Kalkothi (Bolampathy Range) and ends with Chinnapathy of Mannarkad Forest Division via Perumalkoilpathy, Mangalapalayam and Walayar (Coimbatore Range).
In this corridor, most of the areas are undulating terrain. Incessant water sources present in this corridor are Aaimoolai, Surulipadugai, Oritha, Parapathi and Chinnapathy as also some seasonal water sources.
The major menace for this corridor is the extension of agriculture, constructions, indiscriminate water tapping through bore-wells, quarries and because of inter-state railway track.
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Anaikatti – Veerapandi Corridor
Of the wildlife corridors of Coimbatore Forest Division, this corridor is encircled in the north by Periyanaickenplayam in the south by Anuvavi Subramanaya Kail, east by Chinna Thadagam and west by Anaikatti village.
For the elephants, Kodungarai Pallam is the major water source and there are also endless and seasonal water sources available in this corridor. In the Coimbatore Forest Division, the menace to this corridor is the indiscriminate growth development of building constructions in the fringe areas of the corridor.
Kallar – Jaccanari Corridor
Among the wildlife corridors, this important corridor of the Coimbatore Forest Division commences at Kothagiri Road and goes up to Kollar Reserve Forests along the foothills of Jaccanari Mountain bisecting the Mettupalayam – Coonor Highway and Kallar. This is a narrow corriodor having various anthropogenic pressures. Due to the emergence of numerous private educational institutions on the periphery of the forest, elephants have stopped using this corridor that may sound alarming to ecologists.
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Marudamalai – Thanikandy Corridor
This corridor is encircled in the north and south by Coimbatore, on the west by Kerala and on the east by Iruttupallam village in Tamil Nadu. The terrain includes undulating plains and steep and also steep hillocks. The ceaseless water sources available in the area are Vaidhegi falls, Papanasam, Attukal and Paraikinaru. The major threat to this corridor is the expansion of Agriculture in its area.
Kollar – Nelkithurai Corridor
Of the major wildlife corridors, this important corridor of the Coimbatore Forest Division is encircled on the north by a series of hills and on the east by other settlements.
The corridor commences from a point, that is known as first hair pin bend, behind Government Horticulture Garden at Kallar on the way to Ooty and extends goes up to Pillur Reservoir along the banks of Bhavani River.
Here, in this corridor, the movements of elephants are hampered due to the extension of agriculture along the outer sphere of the corridor, and due to which elephant damages the crops severely.
This corridor is the one and only corridor that is the only transit route for elephants to move between Pillur Resreve Forests and Attapady valley from Eastern Ghats.
Fuel wood collection by forest settlements and livestock grazing are posing a great threat to this corridor.
Jaccanari – Vedar Corridor
As one of the important wildlife corridors, this corridor is encircled by sudden escarpment of the Jaccanari Mountain’s on the north and on the east by crop fields. Between the Forest College (Mettupalayam) and Vedar Colony,this corridor is very narrow. It has severe anthropogenic pressure because of which elephants cause brisk depredation. During the dry season elephants get support from the ceaseless Ghandhapallam and Kunukkumadu waterway.