List of Elephant Reserves in India: Learn about Project Elephant, conservation and more!

Safalta Expert Published by: Harshita Pathak Updated Sat, 16 Sep 2023 11:55 AM IST


This article will discuss Project Elephant, its goal and objectives, as well as the facts and data linked to the project's success along with the elephant reserves in India.

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Central Government-sponsored scheme Project Elephant was launched in February 1992. Under this project, the government of India works for the management and protection of the Elephants in the states having wild elephants in a free-ranging population. This project ensures the protection of the Elephant corridors and elephant habitat for the survival of elephants in wildlife. This conservation strategy of elephants was implemented in 16 to 28 states all over the country. In this article, we will be discussing the objectives and goals of the elephant reserves in India.


You may also read the Most Important List of Lists for Government Exams. Elephants in India consume mostly grasses, as well as a lot of tree bark, roots, leaves, and small branches. Bananas, rice, and sugarcane are among the crops that Indian elephants love. They pursue a course that gets them closer to a source of fresh water since they need to drink at least once a day. Elephant populations are declining due to ongoing deforestation and a lack of suitable habitat. Therefore, there are various Elephant reserves to prevent this decline. Let's look at the list of Elephant Reserves in India to learn more about the causes. 

Table of Contents

  1. List of Elephant Reserves of India
  2. What is Project Elephant?
  3. Elephant corridors in India
  4. Major threats to elephant corridors
  5. Successful Scheme For Elephant Conservation: Project Elephant
  6. Project Elephant: MIKE Programme
  7. Haathi Mere Saathi
  8. Elephant Task Force

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List of Elephant Reserves of India

The list of ele[phant reserves in India is as follows: 
Zone  State Elephant Reserves
North-Western Landscape Uttrakhand Shivalik Elephant Reserve
Uttarpradesh Uttar Pradesh Elephant Reserve
East-Central Landscape West Bengal  Mayurjharna Elephant Reserve
Jharkhand Singhbhum Elephant Reserve
Mayurbhanj Elephant Reserve

Mahanadi Elephant Reserve

Sambalpur Elephant Reserve

Baitami Elephant Reserve

South Orissa Elephant Reserve

Lemru Elephant Reserve

Badalkhol – Tamor Pingla Elephant Reserve

Kameng- Sonitpur Landscape Arunachal Pradesh Kameng Elephant Reserve
Assam Sonitpur Elephant Reserve
Eastern-South Bank Landscape Assam Dihing-Patkai Elephant Reserve
Arunachal Pradesh South Arunachal Elephant Reserve
Kaziranga-Karbi Anglong-Intanki Landscape Assam
Kaziranga-Karbi Anglong Elephant Reserve

Dhansiri-Lungding Elephant Reserve

Nagaland Intanki Elephant Reserve
North Bengal- Greater Manas Landscape Assam Chirang-Ripu Elephant Reserve
West Bengal Eastern Dooars Elephant Reserve
Meghalaya Landscape Meghalaya
Garo Hills Elephant Reserve

Khasi-hills Elephant Reserve

Brahmagiri- Nilgiri-Eastern Ghats Landscape Karnataka Mysore Elephant Reserve
Wayanad Elephant Reserve

Nilambur Elephant Reserve

Tamil Nadu Coimbatore
e Elephant Reserve

Nilgiri Elephant Reserve

Andhra Pradesh Rayala Elephant Reserve
Annamalai- Nelliyampathy- High Range Landscape Tamil Nadu Annamalai i Elephant Reserve
Kerala Anamudi Elephant Reserve
Periyar- Agasthyamalai Landscape Kerala Periyar Elephant Reserve
  Tamil Nadu Srivilliputhur Elephant Reserve

The following table gives the last estimated population in states where data was available:

State Elephants (2017-18)
Karnataka 6049
Assam 5719
Kerala 3054
Tamil Nadu 2761
Odisha 1976
Uttarakhand 1839
Meghalaya 1754
Arunachal Pradesh 1614
Jharkhand 679
Nagaland 446
Chhattisgarh 247
Uttar Pradesh 232
West Bengal 194
Tripura 102
Andhra Pradesh 65
Bihar 25
Gujarat 10
Madhya Pradesh 7
Mizoram 7
Maharashtra 6

What is Project Elephant?

The Government of India began PROJECT ELEPHANT in 1992 as a Centrally Sponsored Scheme with the following goals:

1. To safeguard elephants, their habitat, and the corridors that connect them.
2. To address man-animal conflict issues
3. Elephant welfare in captivity

The government assists the state with free-roaming elephants in the protection and management of elephants through the Project Elephant scheme. Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, Andhra Pradesh, Chhattisgarh Jharkhand, Kerala, Karnataka, Meghalaya, Maharashtra, Nagaland, Orissa, Tamil Nadu, Uttaranchal, Uttar Pradesh, and West Bengal are among the states or union territories where this elephant conservation method is mostly implemented. The Union government assists these states with technical and financial assistance in carrying out and achieving the goals of Project Elephant. Not only that but help for the census and field official training are also offered to ensure the mitigation and prevention of man-elephant conflict.

The aim of this project

  • To ensure the protection of elephants from hunters and poachers, and prevent the illegal trade of ivory. It also includes the strategy to prevent unnatural causes of death of elephants in India.
  • To develop and promote scientific and planned management strategies for the conservation of elephants.
  • To mitigate and prevent the increasing conflict between humans and elephants in elephant habitats. It also aims to reduce and remove the pressure of human and domestic livestock grazing and other activities in important elephant habitats.
  • To ensure ecological restoration of the natural elephant habitats and their migratory routes.
  • To promote scientific research on issues related to the conservation of elephants and promotion of public awareness and education on these issues.
  • To ensure the proper health care and breeding of domesticated elephants. To facilitate veterinary care and Eco-development for the elephants.

Elephant Corridors in India

The elephant corridor is the narrow strips of forested lands that connect larger elephant habitats with significant elephant populations. It acts as a conduit for the movement of elephants between the elephant habitat. It is necessary to enhance species survival and the birth rate of the elephant population in the wild.
  • In India, there are around 88 elephant corridors. Elephants use approximately 77.3% of these routes regularly. One-third of these are of high ecological importance, while the remaining two-thirds are of medium importance.
  • Because of habitat fragmentation, these elephant habitats are in peril. Northern West Bengal has the worst difficulty, followed by North-Western India, North-Eastern India, and Central India. South India had the least fragmentation.
  • In South India, protected areas or reserved forests cover 65% of the elephant corridor. However, only 10% of elephant corridors in the Central Area are entirely within the forest, whereas 90% are shared by the forest, farmland, and settlements. In total, just 24% of elephant corridors in India have complete forest cover.

Distribution Of Elephants

Asian elephants were believed to be widely distributed - from Tigris - Euphrates in West Asia eastward through Persia into the Indian sub-continent, South and Southeast Asia including Sri Lanka, Java, Sumatra, Borneo, and up to North China. However, currently, they are confined to the Indian Subcontinent, South East Asia, and some Asian Islands - Sri Lanka, Indonesia, and Malaysia. About 60% of the Asian elephant population is in India.

Old literature indicates that even during the Moghul period, elephants were found all over India including many parts of Central India like Marwar, Chanderi, Satwas, Bijagarh, and Panna. However, the current distribution of wild elephants in India is confined to South India; North East including North West Bengal; Central Indian states of Odisha, South WB, and Jharkhand; and North West India in Uttarakhand and UP.


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Major threats to elephant corridors

  • Issues such as elephant habitat loss, which is causing fragmentation and destruction mostly as a result of development activities such as the construction of roads, trains, buildings, vacation resorts, and electric fences, among others.
  • Coal and iron ore mining have been identified as the single greatest threat to the Elephant Corridor in Central India. States including Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh, and Orissa are mineral-rich, but they also have the most elephant corridors, which leads to elephant-human conflict.
  • Because elephants require a large amount of grazing ground for sustenance, a scarcity of such grazing grounds may compel elephants to seek food elsewhere. Most elephant sanctuaries are insufficient to house all of the elephants, resulting in man-elephant conflict owing to crop devastation by elephants.

Mitigation strategies

  • Wherever possible, combine elephant paths with surrounding protected areas and conserved forests. In some locations, the establishment of ecologically sensitive areas or conservation reserves is required to protect elephant corridors.
  • Securing the elephant corridors would necessitate raising awareness and sensitizing the local populace to encourage voluntary displacement outside of conflict zones. This will avoid the problem of increased fragmentation of continuous forest habitats due to human intrusion. It would also give a haven for other wild animals like tigers, sambars, crocodiles, and several bird species.

Successful Scheme For Elephant Conservation: Project Elephant

The species is listed as a protected species under Schedule I of the Indian Wildlife (Protection) Act of 1972, as well as in the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Flora and Fauna (CITES).

According to recent statistics, the elephant population in India is showing a consistent trend across elephant reserves. The elephant population was projected to be 31,368 in 2012, but it has declined to 27312 in 2017. In 2007, India had a population of 27,682 elephants. Throughout the period, the average population was around 26700 people. A variation in counting methodology has been blamed for the disparity in figures. Manipur, Mizoram, Bihar, Madhya Pradesh, and other states reported sightings for the first time in 2017.

Project Elephant: MIKE Programme

MIKE or the Monitoring of Illegal Killing of Elephants program was started in South Asia in 2003 after the conference of parties a resolution of CITES. This program was launched for proper management and long-term protection of elephants.

The aim of this program:
  1. To assess the extent and trends of unlawful poaching and to ensure that trends for elephant protection alter.
  2. To identify the variables responsible for such changes and to assess the impact of CITES Conference of Parties decisions.

MIKE Sites in India

  1. Chirang-Ripu Elephant Reserve
  2. Dihing Patkai Elephant Reserve
  3. Eastern Dooars Elephant Reserve
  4. Deomali Elephant Reserve
  5. Garo Hills Elephant Reserve
  6. Mayurbhanj Elephant Reserve
  7. Shivalik Elephant Reserve
  8. Mysore Elephant Reserve
  9. Nilgiri Elephant Reserve
  10. Wayanad Elephant Reserve

Haathi Mere Saathi

Haathi Mere Saathi is a campaign launched by the Ministry of Environment and Forest (MoEF) in partnership with the Wildlife Trust of India (WTI). The campaign was launched at the “Elephant- 8” Ministerial meeting held in Delhi in 2011. The E-8 countries comprise India, Botswana, the Republic of Congo, Indonesia, Kenya, Sri Lanka, Tanzania, and Thailand.

The aim of this program:

 Increasing awareness among people and developing friendship, and companionship between people and elephants.

Elephant Task Force

The Union government constituted an Elephant Task Force (ETF) in 2010 under the leadership of historian Mahesh Rangarajan to review the existing policy of elephant conservation in India and formulate future interventions. Dr Mahesh Rangarajan, a wildlife historian and political analyst, led the ETF. Conservation and animal welfare activists, elephant biologists, and a veterinarian were among the other members.

The aim of this program:

To bring pragmatic solutions for the conservation of elephants in the long term.

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The following table gives the last estimated population in states where data was available:

State Elephants (2017-18)
Karnataka 6049
Assam 5719
Kerala 3054
Tamil Nadu 2761
Odisha 1976
Uttarakhand 1839
Meghalaya 1754
Arunachal Pradesh 1614
Jharkhand 679
Nagaland 446
Chhattisgarh 247
Uttar Pradesh 232
West Bengal 194
Tripura 102
Andhra Pradesh 65
Bihar 25
Gujarat 10
Madhya Pradesh 7
Mizoram 7
Maharashtra 6

How many elephant reserves are there in India 2022?

As notified by the government, there are around 32 elephant Reserves in India.

Which is the first elephant reserve of India?

The first elephant reserve was created in Jharkhand in 2001 and is spread over 4,529 square kilometers.

Which Indian state has highest elephant population?

According to the report, Karnataka has the highest number of elephants (6,049), followed by Assam (5,719) and Kerala (3,054).

Why are elephants special in India?

Over 80% of Indians are Hindus, and the elephant is considered a sacred animal by Hindus. Hindus consider elephants to be sacred animals. Ganesh, an elephant-headed deity that rides atop a little mouse, is the living incarnation of one of their most significant gods.

Which country has highest no of elephants?

Botswana now has more elephants than any other African country, and southern Africa is home to 293,000, or 70%, of the estimated remaining African elephants. African elephants are highly gregarious animals that live in herds commanded by solitary, elderly female matriarchs.

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