WCS – India has been actively involved in the study and conservation of the Asian Elephant. Some of the tools that we have developed and used extensively for research and monitoring include camera trapping, line transect sampling, habitat occupancy surveys and modeling and modern genetic methodologies. Monitoring the integrity and quality of wildlife habitats, threat assessment and conservation monitoring has been an integral part of our conservation approach for Asian elephants.
We are monitoring a total area of 22,000 sq km of prime wildlife habitat in the Western Ghats of Karnataka that shelters the meta populations of the Asian Elephant. These monitoring efforts at two levels include: large scale distribution and occupancy survey at the landscape level and fine-scale monitoring of key source populations at the level of protected reserves. We have been monitoring elephant source populations in several Karnataka’s reserves: Nagarahole since 1988, Bhadra since 1998, Bandipur since 1999, Dandeli-Anshi since 2008 and BRT since 2011.
Student projects supported by WCS – India have also addressed a variety of questions, including novel approaches to estimating elephant densities, prevalence of disease in wild elephants, impact of landcover changes on human-elephant conflict, factors affecting elephant distribution and conflict in a fragmented landscape, among others. We have also organized an international workshop to review methodologies for assessing elephant populations including threats to their habitat and played a key role in publishing a manual that serves the needs of elephant biologists, managers and conservationists.