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News

Feb 24, 2017

Save Orissa’s Giant Refugees—Elephants Abused by Human Mobs

Elephant herds in the forests of eastern India are being attacked by human beings who have intruded into areas that were once wilderness.

WRITTEN BY

Supriya Vohra

This wildlife campaign hopes to end the conflict.

In the patches of forests and fields that fringe Bhubaneshwar city, Orissa, a herd of elephants is caught in constant conflict. The elephants are regularly harassed and abused by humans who live in nearby villages.

Cara Tejpal, a wildlife conservationist with Sanctuary Nature Foundation, and her colleagues witnessed this abuse in December 2016, when they had gone to recce the area for a documentary project.

“It was a horrific sight. There were about 300 men, many of them drunk on local liquor, just harassing the poor elephants, not letting them pass through,” she told The Outdoor Journal.

The elephants arrived in the area about five years ago, after wandering away from the Chandaka-Dampara Wildlife Sanctuary nearby, as it had degraded over time. For several years, the elephants have ambled through rural lands and patches of Athgarh Forest Division nearby, resting in the day and moving at night, in constant search for food and the next place for shelter.

As evening descends, mobs of people begin harassing these gentle giants. “The frenzy of the mob is overwhelming. This isn’t even an exercise in defence, because there aren’t any crops or homesteads for them to protect. This is pure entertainment for them,” Cara fumed.

Human mob running after an elephant in Athgarh Forest Division. Photo © Karan Tejpal
Human mob running after an elephant in Athgarh Forest Division. Photo © Karan Tejpal

Hunting is a prohibited activity under India’s Wild Life Protection Act (1972). This includes, “capturing, coursing, snaring, trapping, driving or baiting any wild or captive animal and every attempt to do so;” as well as “injuring or destroying or taking any part of the body of any such animal.”

The abuse of elephants is punishable under this act, but no action has been taken yet.

To combat this, Cara and her team—Orissa-based conservationist Aditya Chandra Panda, filmmakers Ishaan Ghosh, Karan and Tiya Tejpal have launched a public campaign with Sanctuary Nature Foundation to appeal to Orissa’s Chief Minister to take appropriate action.

How To Participate in the Campaign
STEP 1: Share the link to the campaign video above with Naveen Patnaik, the Chief Minister of Orissa.

STEP 2: Ask him to take urgent action to protect the refugee elephants of Athgarh by:

* Directing police intervention to control mobs so that the elephants are allowed undisturbed passage.

* Setting up a task force to effect the restoration of the Chandaka-Dampara Wildlife Sanctuary, and to secure and revive its corridors to the Kapilas Wildlife Sanctuary and the Satkosia landscape in the state.

Send him an email at: cmo@nic.in with a copy to: editorial@sanctuaryasia.com
Tweet to him @Naveen_Odisha with the hashtag #GiantRefugees.
Note:Taken from Sanctuary Asia’s page.

“The only immediate solution to this is police intervention to control the mob,” Cara explained in a telephone conversation. “The elephants just want a safe passage to go to their next destination.”

“As a long term measure, the Chandaka-Dampara Sanctuary, and the forest corridors that connect it to other wilderness areas in the state HAVE to be revived,” she said.

Herd martriarch Laxmi and her daughter Moti caress each other with their trunks as the mob closes in on them. Photo © Karan Tejpal
Herd martriarch Laxmi and her daughter Moti caress each other with their trunks as the mob closes in on them. Photo © Karan Tejpal

“The forest authorities are not empowered enough to take action, so this NEEDS to be directed by the chief minister. So far, over 150 individuals have written emails to the CM demanding his intervention, and dozens have reached out to him on social media, including several celebrities. We are keeping our fingers crossed for a miracle,” she said on a final note.


The Indian elephant (Elephas maximus) has been listed endangered by the IUCN since 1986, since their population has declined by 50% in the last 75 years. The elephant is an intelligent, social and sentient being. They need forest corridors to roam around freely, their habitat restored to grow and play freely. They deserve respect and freedom. Help them by taking part in this campaign.

Feature Image © Aditya Chandra Panda

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Adventure Travel

Jul 31, 2018

Kayaking’s Elite Return to India at the Malabar River Festival

During the week of July 18th to 22nd, the Malabar River Festival returned to Kerala, India with one of the biggest cash prizes in whitewater kayaking in the world.

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WRITTEN BY

Brooke Hess

A $20,000 purse attracted some of the world’s best kayakers to the region for an epic week battling it out on some of India’s best whitewater.

The kayaking events at Malabar River Festival were held on the Kuttiyadi River, Chalippuzha River, and the Iruvajippuzha River, in South India on the Malabar Coast. The festival was founded and organized by Manik Taneja and Jacopo Nordera of GoodWave Adventures, the first whitewater kayaking school in South India.

Photo: Akash Sharma

“Look out for these guys in the future because there are some future stars there”

One of the goals of the festival is to promote whitewater kayaking in the state of Kerala and encourage locals to get into the sport. One of the event organizers, Vaijayanthi Bhat, feels that the festival plays a large part in promoting the sport within the community.  “The kayak community is building up through the Malabar Festival. Quite a few people are picking up kayaking… It starts with people watching the event and getting curious.  GoodWave Adventures are teaching the locals.”

Photo: Akash Sharma

Vaijayanthi is not lying when she says the kayak community is starting to build up.  In addition to the pro category, this year’s Malabar Festival hosted an intermediate competition specifically designed for local kayakers. The intermediate competition saw a huge turnout of 22 competitors in the men’s category and 9 competitors in the women’s category. Even the professional kayakers who traveled across the world to compete at the festival were impressed with the talent shown by the local kayakers. Mike Dawson of New Zealand, and the winner of the men’s pro competition had nothing but good things to say about the local kayakers. “I have so much respect for the local kayakers. I was stoked to see huge improvements from these guys since I met them in 2015. It was cool to see them ripping up the rivers and also just trying to hang out and ask as many questions about how to improve their paddling. It was awesome to watch them racing and making it through the rounds. Look out for these guys in the future because there are some future stars there.”

Photo: Akash Sharma

 

“It was awesome because you had such a great field of racers so you had to push it and be on your game without making a mistake”

Vaijayanthi says the festival has future goals of being named a world championship.  In order to do this, they have to attract world class kayakers to the event.  With names like Dane Jackson, Nouria Newman, Nicole Mansfield, Mike Dawson, and Gerd Serrasolses coming out for the pro competition, it already seems like they are doing a good job of working toward that goal! The pro competition was composed of four different kayaking events- boatercross, freestyle, slalom, and a superfinal race down a technical rapid. “The Finals of the extreme racing held on the Malabar Express was the favourite event for me. It was an epic rapid to race down. 90 seconds of continuous whitewater with a decent flow. It was awesome because you had such a great field of racers so you had to push it and be on your game without making a mistake.” says Dawson.

Photo: Akash Sharma

The impressive amount of prize money wasn’t the only thing that lured these big name kayakers to Kerala for the festival. Many of the kayakers have stayed in South India after the event ended to explore the rivers in the region. With numerous unexplored jungle rivers, the possibilities for exploratory kayaking are seemingly endless. Dawson knows the exploratory nature of the region well.  “I’ve been to the Malabar River Fest in 2015. I loved it then, and that’s why I’ve been so keen to come back. Kerala is an amazing region for kayaking. In the rainy season there is so much water, and because the state has tons of mountains close to the sea it means that there’s a lot of exploring and sections that are around. It’s a unique kind of paddling, with the rivers taking you through some really jungly inaccessible terrain. Looking forward to coming back to Kerala and also exploring the other regions of India in the future.”

 

For more information on the festival, visit: http://www.malabarfest.com/

Subscribe here: https://www.outdoorjournal.com/in/subscribe/

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