How Mobile Alerts Are Saving Lives in Karnataka

The elephant population of Karanataka sits between 5,300 and 6,200, and sharing their habitat are approximately 100,000 people. Human-elephant conflict (HEC) is especially severe with 46 people and 17 elephants dying between 1986 and 2011 as a result of this conflict, and over 250 human and elephant injuries being reported. In 2014, the worsening situation led to the capture of 22 elephants, but despite this HEC has continued to rise.

Elephant Family have been working closely with Dr. M. Ananda Kumar and the Nature Conservation Foundation in Hassan, India to find ways of easing HEC in order to improve the wellbeing and livelihoods of both elephants and people in the region. His accessible and effective early-warning system uses low cost technology — including text messages and information boards along key stretches of roads — to warn people when elephants are in the area so they can take appropriate action.

Below is a fantastic video explaining how the early-warning system technology works:

We have been delighted to receive a recent update from Ananda, demonstrating that this form of HEC prevention is proving highly successful.

Originally, experts dismissed Ananda’s early-warning systems saying that they wouldn’t work, and that elephants didn’t have a place in Hassan because they threatened the lives of the local people. It was suggested that in order to mitigate HEC, elephants should be removed from the region altogether.

Understanding this suggestion not to be an example of true human-wildlife coexistence, Ananda and NCF have dedicated their lives to getting to grips with human-elephant relationships so that the people and elephants of Hassan can peacefully coexist.

Since the mobile technology of early-warning systems has been in place, there has been a decline in human deaths caused by HEC and in the past 22 months there hasn’t been a single fatality – the longest period in the past decade.

Not only does this wonderful news demonstrate the efficacy of a simple piece of technology, but it also highlights the need to engage communities and authorities with the importance of human-wildlife coexistence. Rather than simply expel these animals from their rightful home, these sorts of interventions allow for the education of communities which in turn increases tolerance for the wildlife they share their homes with.