Reviving the ancient bond with wildlife
The Karbi foothills of Assam in north east India are affected by intense human-elephant conflict (HEC). This is exacerbated by degradation of the forest habitat and local people’s lack of awareness of local wildlife and conservation issues. In the past few years, with Elephant Family funding, members of the Green Guard Nature Organisation have worked to improve this lack of awareness and to revive the age old bond between people and wildlife.
The project has worked to create a habitat in which elephants can exist without crop raiding, through clearing invasive vegetation, planting elephant fodder crops and creating salt licks. Through involving the local communities in these endeavours, it has raised awareness about HEC and generated positive feeling towards the elephants.
As well as planting fodder for elephants, the project has carried out awareness campaigns within the community, printing and displaying banners and hoardings throughout the area, and conducting activities focused on engaging the children at local schools. From this pool of engaged youth, the project team have appointed some to work directly as a network of informants, alerting the team to illegal activities in the area.
Changing deeply engrained mind-sets takes time, but this project has already made some notable progress towards its goal, so much so that other communities are now expressing an interest in replicating the project in their area. Most effective has been the work with children, who are more receptive to conservation needs and methods, leading to many becoming directly involved in the project’s conservation work.