Posted 08 August 2011, by C.S. Kotteswaran, The Deccan Chronicle, deccanchronicle.com
Male elephants suffer more stress than their female counterparts. A combination of generic and man-made factors have pushed the mortality rate up among male elephants in the Nilgiri biosphere, says a decade-old study carried out by wildlife experts.
According to data available with this newspaper, there is a vast variation in the mortality rates of male and female jumbos.
At the juvenile levels, the sex ratio is almost equal but as they progress to adolescence, the male population dips due to high death rates.
And, among adults, the ratio is alarming, when compared to other national parks in north India.
Though the sex ratio is now limping back to normalcy from 1 (male): 29 (female) in 2000 to 1: 12 as per 2011 census, the problem is gigantic tuskers, the native breed of Mudumalai jumbos with long tusks, have vanished from the forests due to poaching and other biological reasons, says Raman Sukumar, professor, Centre for Ecological Sciences (CES), Indian Institute of Science, and lead scientist on pachyderms.
The native, long tuskers in the Nilgiri biosphere have slowly vanished since the early 1980s and this had also resulted in the increase in the number of makna population (males without tusks), he says.
“If poaching is curbed, there is a possibility for restoring the huge tuskers as they are genetically yet to be extinct,” Prof. Sukumar explains.
“The male elephants face more stress and challenges as compared to females and are also poached more due to their huge tusks. At present, the sex ratio is improving and only short tuskers are prevalent in most of the Nilgiris forest ranges,” says project assistant and field biologist G. Kannan of CES.