For thousands of years across Asia, people and elephants have lived side by side in relatively peaceful coexistence. Shrinking habitats and the spread of human settlements is forcing elephants and people to compete for the same resources. Damages homes, ravaged crops, injury and loss of life make up a common story of human-elephant conflict. A story in which family and survival lies at the heart.
The Karbi foothills in Assam is a remote location linked by bad roads and an erratic power support. People living here battle against the elements, grow crops to support their families and depend on the forest for fuel to warm their homes and cook. It is a challenging life and a habitat for the Asian elephant. The region has become a hotspot for conflict due to a lack of information about elephant movements and a lack of knowledge about ways to live peacefully and coexist alongside elephants.
Through our work, we are addressing both sides of the conflict story. To curb the temptation of elephants to eat crops, we are enriching their habitat by planting rice fields, bananas and fodder species preferred by elephants in place of invasive creepers and low nutrition shrubs. Salt licks will be created to improve elephant nutrition.
Community engagement is crucial to success. Local community groups and schools throughout the Karbi foothills are engaged in an awareness raising campaign to raise and address the issue of poaching and killing of endangered species. The programme will reduce the dependence on firewood through the distribution of smokeless stoves and warm blankets. To equip communities with a means of sharing information about elephant movement, mobile phones will be provided to select youths living in the area.
Through the enrichment and protection of elephant habitat, discussion groups, information sharing programme, and support of local people, we will turn conflict into coexistence between human and elephant communities.
Project partner: Green Guard Nature Organisation
Elephant population: 200-300, increasing during the winter migration
October 2018 Project Update: Reviving the ancient bond with wildlife
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