Understanding Human-Elephant Relationships

Why is this project so important?

The Hassan district is beautiful - dominated by undulating hills covered with paddy fields and coffee plantations. It is also one of the worst areas for human-elephant conflict in the state of Karnataka. Every year people die as a result of this conflict while elephants are captured from the wild. Between 1986 and 2011, 46 people and 17 elephants have died as a result of this conflict with over 250 human and elephant injuries reported.  The conflict got so bad that in 2014 pressure from villagers led to the Forest Department capturing 22 elephants – the largest, single capture to take place in India. A few years later more elephants occupied the landscape from neighbouring villages with conflict back on the rise

Elephant Family and our field partner, Dr Ananda Kumar of Nature Conservation Foundation, are mitigating this conflict through the use of low cost, accessible technology which warns people when elephants are in the area.  Based on mobile phone technology a series of message boards along key stretches of road and phone texts inform people, enable them to take appropriate action. The system has seen a 100% success rate in Valparai, Tamil Nadu, and will be piloted in this new area by the end of 2017.

Project Partner: Nature Conservation Foundation (NCF)    

Duration: 2010 - present  

Elephant population of Karnataka State: 5,300 - 6,200

Project goals

1)      Identify critical elephant migrations and habitats

2)      Investigate where human-elephant conflict is happening and why

3)      Understand local attitudes towards elephants

4)      Improve ways of dealing with and preventing conflict

What we do

We fund the pioneering work of Dr. M. Ananda Kumar, who won a Whitley Award (also known as a Green Oscar) in 2015 for the innovative Elephant Family funded Elephant Information System in India.

Elephant Family alongside Dr. Kumar of the Nature Conservation Foundation, are replicating these award-winning early warning systems to mitigate human-elephant conflict in the highly complex and fraught landscape of Hassan. This project will be the first of its kind in the region which adopts a bottom-up approach, involving local communities and government agencies to promote human-elephant coexistence.