India has approximately 60% of the world population of Asian elephants. Populations of wild elephants in India are hit with large scale habitat degradation, loss of movement and habitat corridors, poaching for their tusk, growing human elephant conflict and even accidents. Habitat degradation and loss of corridors have also brought the pachyderms in direct conflict with human beings. Approximately two third of the funds spent by the Government agencies for elephant conservation goes for managing conflicts including paying ex-gratia to affected people. Interestingly human elephant conflict (HEC) has been mostly addressed from the human point of view - measures are put to reduce damage to human lives and property as that would be attributed to reducing the chances of people's retaliation. What is also needed is to address the problem from the other perspective that would directly benefit the elephants. This would need a detailed understanding of the conflict. WWF-India has been working in the North Bank Landscape for managing HEC since 2003 which has seen less retaliatory killing of elephants in the recent years. The process of driving wild elephants back to forests using trained domesticated elephants or Kunki elephants, also known as ‘Sonitpur Model’ of HEC management has also been adopted by the Assam State Forest Department. In Terai Arc Landscape physical barriers have been created to prevent elephants from crop raiding. To analyse the cause of conflict, problem elephants have been followed, collared and tracked to understand their behaviour in the Western Ghats Nilgiris Landscape. This workshop would look at the status of HEC in the country in general, present different HEC management measures adopted in different parts of the country, and finally discuss a science based approach to manage HEC in future.
Dr. K. K. Sharma, Professor, Assam State Veterinary College, Khanapara
Dr. Sushant Chowdhury, Professor, WII (to be confirmed)
Dr. Anupam Sarmah, Head, Assam Landscapes, WWF-India
Dr. Anil Kumar Singh, Team Leader, Terai Arc Landscape, WWF-India
Capacity: 30 Students