Determining human elephant coexistence baselines

Why this project was important

With only 20% of the Asian elephant’s range in India lying within protected areas, most elephants live in landscapes they share with people. As people and elephants compete for space, conflicts are inevitable.  

Human-elephant conflict in India is on the rise, with injury and death a common outcome on both sides. As a result, on average, one person dies every day, and two elephants die every week. Ways to coexist are urgently needed, but lessons learned in one landscape may or may not apply elsewhere.  

Understanding the local context — the land-use, history, elephant behaviour, and people’s culture of living with elephants — is vital for the success of human-elephant conflict solutions. A deeper understanding of the similarities, and differences, between such landscapes will make implementing solutions to human-elephant conflict more effective. 

Project partner:  Dakshin Foundation

Duration: 2018-2020

Elephant population in Nilgiri Biosphere Reserve Landscape: 8,000

Project goals

To develop knowledge and understanding across human-elephant conflict landscapes, so their similarities and differences can be considered when implementing human-elephant conflict  mitigation activities. 

What we do

Human-elephant conflict is an intractable problem, and a deeper understanding of what shapes its intensity and outcomes is vital. Elephant Family’s support helped the Dakshin Foundation to investigate how human-elephant conflict occurs in different contexts, and which kinds of Human-elephant conflict mitigation activities work best where, and why. Critical similarities and differences between landscapes can only be seen once multiple interacting factors are considered. 

By working with local forest departments, knowledge was gained and shared to ensure effective solutions were put in place to promote the harmonious coexistence of elephants and people. The solutions developed through this project were not only relevant to the three landscapes that were its primary focus – Tamil Nadu, Kerala and Karnataka – but are also widely applicable across other countries where there are Asian elephants.  

October 2018 project update:  Cultivating coexistence in southern India

December 2018 project update:  From uneasy neighbours to more peaceful human-elephant coexistence