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Last Updated: Wednesday, 19 December 2007, 19:21 GMT
Indian 'elephant corridor' scheme
Asian elephant
India contains large numbers of Asian elephants
More than 1,000 wild elephants have been given a corridor that links two reserves in the southern Indian state of Karnataka, wildlife officials say.

The land was handed over by the animal welfare groups to forest officials in a ceremony in Bangalore.

They say that it is the first time that land bought by non-profit wildlife groups has been handed over to a state government to protect wild elephants.

They say the corridors are vital to ensure their survival.

Habitat fragmentation

"This is a great step forward for elephant conservation in India, and a model I hope other wildlife groups will follow," said Vivek Menon, Executive Director of the Wildlife Trust for India (WTI).

"One of the greatest threats facing Asian elephants today is the shrinking and fragmentation of their habitat."

The WTI says that forestry officials will maintain the corridor as a "safe passage" for elephants.

Under the terms of the agreement, the Edayargalli-Doddasampige (E-D) corridor will be linked with the Biligiri Rangaswamy Temple (BRT) wildlife sanctuary.

Officials say that the E-D corridor is a narrow strip of land - 0.5km wide and 2km long - that is crucial to the local elephant population as it links two forested areas cut off from each other by deforestation and agricultural land.

They say that a road also runs through the corridor, connecting human settlements to the north and south, which threatens the ability of elephants to move safely between the protected areas for foraging and breeding.

Officials say that there are 88 identified elephant corridors in India. The country is home to an estimated 25,000 wild elephants.

But they say that numbers have dropped by half over 20 years.

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