Managing Lantana camara to improve elephant habitat
Why is this project so important?
Of south India’s prime elephant habitat, 30% has been completely taken over by one of the world’s most invasive weeds: Lantana camara.
Lantana suppresses the growth of native vegetation, and regenerates vigorously when it is cut back. Due to toxins in the leaves it is not palatable to mammals, including elephants. Removing Lantana and restoring the native vegetation is critically important for Asian elephants, as well as a whole host of other species that depend on the same habitat. But so far, no attempts to manage Lantana have been successful.
Project Partner: Dakshin Foundation
Elephant population in the Nilgiri Biosphere Reserve Landscape: 8,000
Developing an innovative, economically sustainable management regime for Lantana camara, and effective restoration techniques.
What we do
Elephant Family is supporting the development of an innovative method to tackle Lantana. Mechanically removing the plant by cutting it at the root minimises disturbance to the soil, and helps prevent the plant's regeneration. The cut stems can be used to make crafts and furniture, and remaining plant material can be shredded and sold into the biomass industry that uses compressed Lantana briquettes as a fuel source. Both of these will provide a financial incentive for local communities to get involved in Lantana removal, and make Lantana management self-sustaining. Alongside this our partner, the Dakshin Foundation, will explore new methods for restoring land once Lantana has been eradicated. This project offers a crucial opportunity to address a widespread problem that threatens habitats across the Asian elephant’s range. Successes here can be shared with the whole conservation community, benefiting elephants and other wildlife far beyond the boundaries of the project itself.