Migration of a Different Kind
India has the highest number of elephants in the world and within the country Assam has the most, slightly less than Karnataka. But these animals are migrating to adjacent Bhutan too frequently for their favourite food - rice crops.
The migrating herds have several calves. They use the same route both ways. But the path of elephants is not smooth. There is a national highway, railway lines, tea garden ditches, sewage drains, shallow trenches and other hurdles. The forest department is also in fear of danger at any moment. On their way to Bhutan, the elephants also attack nearby human settlements.
Bhutan also has some elephants of its own and all the populations are found along the border with India. In the past, elephants also made seasonal migrations from Bhutan to the grasslands of India during the wetter summer months and returning in the winter.Once widespread in India, the species is now restricted to four general areas: North Eastern, central, north western, and southern India. In NE, the elephant range extends from the eastern border of Nepal in northern West Bengal to parts of the lower Brahmaputra plains and Karbi Plateau.
In north western India, the species occurs in six fragmented populations at the foot of the Himalayas in Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand. In neighbouring Nepal, elephants were once widespread in the lowland Terai, but are now restricted to a few protected areas along the border with India- Royal Chitwan National Park, Parsa Wildlife Reserve, Royal Bardia National Park,
and Royal Suklaphanta Wildlife Reserve, and their environs.
Asian elephants formerly ranged from West Asia along the Iranian coast into the Indian subcontinent, a range covering over nine million km². But Asian elephants are now extinct in West Asia, Java, and most of China.