Understanding elephant behaviour in a human-dominated landscape


Why this project was important

The Anamalai Hills of southern India are one of the most critical conservation areas for the endangered Asian elephant, but today much of the forest has been cleared for commercial plantations.

At the centre lies the Valparai Plateau, which is now a mosaic landscape of tea, coffee and cardamom crops, patches of rainforest and widely scattered villages with a human population of approximately 100,000. Due to the fragmented nature of the habitat, elephants are frequently forced to range through human-dominated landscapes in search of food and water. These marked changes in their habitats are placing pressure on elephant populations and may also lead to impacts on their breeding success as well as overall body and health conditions.

Project Partner: Nature Conservation Foundation (NCF)    

Duration: 2016 – Present

Elephant population of the greater Anamalai Landscape: 1,000

Project goals

To determine the effects that large-scale landscape changes have on wild elephant behaviour, reproduction and herd demography.

What we do

Elephant Family funds researchers in the field to understand the effect that large-scale landscape changes have on elephant behaviour. The long-term impact of such a study will inform planning and management of human development in order to avoid developments threatening elephant habitat. By a combination of methods including direct observation, movement tracking and measurement of stress hormone levels in dung samples we will gain insight into the herds’ general health, structure and number of births and deaths – and contribute important information to managers to help alter any plans threatening elephants’ habitat.