Trees+ for Elephants
Singhbhum, Jharkhand, IndiaProject Purpose
Trees for Forests & Wildlife
Herbal Medicine Production
- To reforest the lost green pastures due to anthropogenic pressures like mining and settlement expansion
- To create a natural buffer corridor for the elephants to reduce man-animal conflict in the region
- To restore the natural wildlife habitat, secure food sources for elephants, and provide shelter for them
- To enhance the socio-economic status of the rural communities by providing alternate means of resources and employment with the plantation of NTFPs (Non-Timber Forest Produce)
- To revive a traditional water harvesting pond by the de-siltation process in the Laylam Panchayat
- To augment additional incomes to the rural communities through duck farming and fishery activities
About the Pond
The project involves enlarging an existing pond in Laylam Village (2011 population: 1,673 people in 330 households) of the Laylam Panchayat where the plantation of 100,000 trees is being conducted, from a minimal capacity to a capacity of about 500,000 liters. The soil bored out after de-siltation has been accumulated at the corner and is made available to the local farmers to help them increase their output in the short term. The pond had been originally dug to fulfill the annual needs of the villagers, however, over the years, it started to aggregate layers of soil inside it, making the water capacity marginally small.
The current capacity of the pond is sufficient only till January-February after the end of monsoon, leading to water scarcity till the onset of the next monsoon season in June-July. During this period, villagers, their livestock and wildlife face great hardship from lack of easy access to water. The pond, which is based on surface runoff of water, will be enlarged to a length of 45 feet, width of 30 feet and depth of 15 feet. After the enlargement, the water pond should be able to suffice the needs of the villagers throughout the year. In the longer run, the pond will be co-managed by the village Panchayat.
Other expected outcomes from enlargement of the pond include:
- Reduced rainwater run-off because of tree planting will lead to increased groundwater availability, help recharge wells and provide additional water for irrigation.
- Improved availability of water in the 5 villages that are a part of the Laylam Panchayat, for consumption and crop irrigation.
- The region is likely to see an improvement in the microclimatic conditions, owing to the increasing green cover and rehabilitation of the water bodies
- Greater availability of medicinal materials, fruits, leaves, etc. as livelihood resources for the local communities due to an increase in the irrigated land
In the year 2001-03 nearly 8,000 hectares of forest were lost in the West Singhbum district, Jharkhand due to iron ore, coal and limestone mining. Anthropogenic pressures due to agriculture, mining, and settlement expansion result in depletion or loss of natural habitat, forest corridors, and biodiversity. Loss of forest cover over the years has caused habitat fragmentation, human-elephant conflicts and a decline in the numbers of elephants seen in the Singhbhum Forests of India. S. Kulandaivel, the deputy conservator of forests and a former divisional forest officer of Bankura north division, says, “Due to depletion of natural food habitat in the forests, elephant herds have extended their habitat to cropland." (quoted by Ananda Banerjee in Livemint, November 25, 2016). Our goal is to restore the natural habitation, secure food sources for elephants, and provide shelter for them.
Elephants are classified as mega-herbivores, i.e., they are plant-eating mammals that weigh more than 2,200 lb (1,000 kg). They require up to 330 lb (150 kg) of plant material each day. The Indian Elephants "feed on renewable and periodically renewed plant parts. They consume a wide variety of fodder (the aerial shoots of grasses and bamboos, foliage and green twigs, herbaceous stems and bark, aerial roots, fruits and even some flowers) and need extensive, varied terrain to suit their far-ranging habit and seasonal variations of vegetation." (M. Krishnan, Sanctuary, Vol. II No. 1. Jan/Mar 1982).
In a research study published by Kalpana K. Mohapatra, A.K. Patra and D.S. Paramanik on 'Food and feeding behaviour of Asiatic Elephant (Elephas maximus Linn.) in Kuldiha Wild Life Sanctuary, Odisha, India', the consumption of tree species by the Indian elephant was found to be 56% as compared to shrubs (20%), herbs (14%) and climbers (10%). Mango (Mangifera indica) was found to be an extensive part of their diet. The Asian elephant distinguishes itself from its African counterpart because of its dependency on arboreal forests as opposed to grasslands. Due to the variation in habitat and climatic conditions prevalent across the two continents, the elephant population in Asia and more specifically India, depends on its tropical trees—consuming twigs, branches, stems, root, flowers, fruit etc
Elephants are also one of the significant ways in which trees disperse their seeds; some species rely entirely upon elephants for seed dispersal. Wherever they live, elephants leave dung that is full of seeds from the many plants they eat. When this dung is deposited the seeds are sown and grow into new grasses, bushes, and trees, boosting the health of the ecosystem. Trees for elephants will create a more suitable habitat with improved food sources for elephants, reduce the existing human-elephant conflicts and help the natural regeneration of forests.
The project involves plantation of local tree species, namely, Karanj (Millettia pinnata), Sheesham (Dalbergia sissoo), Acacia, Jackfruit (Artocarpus heterophyllus), Mango (Mangifera indica), Jamun (Syzygium cumini), Neem (Azadirachta indica), and Bamboo (Bambusa vulgaris).
Plantation of 100,000 trees will help expand forest corridors and restore elephant migration routes between fragmented areas. Growing trees, providing fruit and fodder for elephants can reduce crop-raiding, thereby, protecting the income of the tribal communities in the area that constitute to 83.8% of the population according to Census 2011. Villagers from Laylam village will participate in the entire process of plantation activity such as the preparation of land, nursery development, pit digging, plantation, and nurturing planted saplings. Around 8,186 workdays of jobs will be created in the nursery and planting activity alone; additionally, there will be indirect employment and extra revenue from flowers, fruit, fodder, and fuel. Planting trees and enlarging the pond will protect the watershed, improve groundwater table, and reduce the impact of soil erosion. The trees will further absorb about 2 million kilograms of carbon every year when mature.
(EDIT) this is coming below tree species section