Determining human elephant coexistence baselines

Why this project is 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 (HEC) 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 HEC solutions. A deeper understanding of the similarities, and differences, between such landscapes will make implementing solutions to HEC more effective.

Project partner:  Dakshin Foundation

Duration: 2018-Present

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 taken into account when implementing HEC mitigation activities.

What we do

HEC is an intractable problem, and a deeper understanding of what shapes its intensity and outcomes is vital. Elephant Family’s support will help investigate how HEC occurs in different contexts, and which kinds of HEC-mitigation activities might work where and, more importantly, why. Critical similarities and differences between landscapes can only be seen once multiple, interacting factors are taken into account.

By working with local forest departments, knowledge will be gained and shared to ensure that effective solutions can be put in place to promote the harmonious coexistence of elephants and people. This will not only be directly relevant to the three landscapes that are the primary focus of this project – Tamil Nadu, Kerala and Karnataka, but will also be widely applicable across Asian elephant range countries.

October 2018 project update:  Cultivating coexistence in southern India

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