Food Resource Availabilty To Elephant And Impact On Tree Species Around Anayirangal Reservoir (Munnar-Kerala)

Research Article
Mahesh Kumar K, Manimekalan A, Boominathan, Rameshan M and Manickam Paulpandi
Anayirangal reservoir; Human Elephant conflict; Plantations; Biomass

The present study the wide-ranging mammals of Asian elephants (Elephas maximus) the casual and proximate factors that determine the food resource availability of elephant. We studied about elephant use of fragmented habitats and ranging patterns of focal herds in a landscape of rainforest fragments are mainly due to tea, coffee, and Eucalyptus plantations in the Anayirangal reservoir. There has been a little systematic research work carried out to investigate habitat use and food resource by elephants in different land uses and what are the factors that influence the elephant distribution in these land uses. Grasslands, plantations of Eucalyptus, Pine, Cardamom and Shola are the six different vegetation type selected for this study. For easy observation, the plant species were classified as first dominant grass, second dominant grass species and all remaining classified as others which includes shrubs and herbs. Dominant grass species Pennisetium purpurem, Cymbophogon citratus, Cyanotis sp., Axnopus compressus, Ischemum indicum and Cymbopogon sp. are recorded in Anayirangal reservoir. Line and belt transect method are used to study to estimated the biomass value of grass, tree density any impact on trees by elephants (debarked damage or push down) or human influence (cut tree) and also use areas of livestock animals in different elephant habitat areas. Biomass value high recorded in grassland-2 (54.3 %) very low in Cardamom plantation (0.4%). Grass biomass value high in grassland-1 (94.75%), Grassland-2(95.77%), Eucalyptus plantation (73.88%), Pine plantation (71.52%), in Shola forest (88.61%). The carbon value is high in Cymbopogon citratus (54.87%) followed by Pennisetium purpurem (54.80 %) and carbon value is low in the grass species Arundinella purpunea(45.82 %). The Nitrogen value is highest in Setonia polmifolia (4.17 %), Oplismenus composites (3.64) and very low in Cymbopogon. Sp (0.53) followed by Cymbopogon citratus (0.79). Human population, Encroachment and tourism reduced or fragmented the elephant habitat area. High level conflicts were recorded in BL Ram of the study area. In the total survey area, there were only four trees were seen debarking by elephant and the impact on trees by man were more. Mega herbivores like the elephant with a large home range and equally large food requirements have been among the most affected species. This study concludes that the important survival sources or factors of the elephants were highly reduced in Anayirangal reservoir through anthropogenic activities cause frequent human elephant conflicts.