Mining a threat to elephant habitats: Ramesh

New Delhi: Coal and iron ore mining are the biggest "threats" to elephant corridors in central India, Environment Minister Jairam Ramesh said on Tuesday and maintained that a way of extracting mineral resources without devastating the tusker population will have to be found out.

Addressing the Elephant-8 Ministerial Meeting here, he said unlike the tiger, which faces threat of extinction, the elephant in India faces the "threat of attrition".

"Numbers have not gone down dramatically. Numbers have not gone up dramatically even. There are some 25000-27000 elephants. But there is increasing pressure on habitats…

elephant corridors are beginning to get disturbed. That`s why I consciously called it a crisis of attrition," he said.

Ramesh said coal mining and iron ore mining are the two "single biggest threats" to elephant corridors in central India. The most important source of the pressure on habitats is coming from increasing mining activities in states like Orissa, Jharkhand and Chattisgarh, he said.

"I think we need therefore to bring a greater degree of sensitivity. We need this mineral wealth. But we have to find a way of extracting mineral resources without devastating elephant population and corridors," the minister said.

He noted that the delegates at the meeting represent eight countries with two-thirds of the world`s wild elephant population. "Later in 2013 we will bring in all the 50 elephant range countries together to deliberate and actively cooperate for elephant conservation and welfare," he added.

India harbours more than 50 per cent of the world`s Asian elephants.