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Projects in India

Filtering by Tag: HEC

Elephants on the Line - Bhutan and India

Chris Reifschneider



Part of the AES mission statement is “to increase awareness and offer support for human-elephant coexistence to help protect the needs and future of the Asian elephants”.  Over the past couple of years, AES has supported Mamatha Sathyanarayana,  a high school Biology teacher from Mysore, India.   Along with her teaching responsibilities, she is also involved with wildlife conservation. She facilitates workshops about wildlife co-existence (elephants, in particular)  for the local village children.  In October 2014 we had the opportunity to support Mamatha to attend and facilitate educational workshops in Bhutan. The North East India and Bhutan border is home to a sizable population of Asian elephants.  Elephants on the Line (EoL) is an organization that is collaborating between Bhutan, India and US partners to address the major human-elephant conflict issues in this area.   In 2014 the focus of EoL is the Udalguri District of Assam, India, which has one of the highest HEC rates in all of Asia. The following is Mamatha’s account of the workshops:

Elephants on the Line Education Workshops

Bhutan and Assam, India, October 2014

Role playing exercise

Role playing exercise

Elephants on the Line (EoL) is a trans-boundary, community based project that has been initiated to help local communities in Northern Assam and Southern Bhutan deal with human elephant conflict by providing awareness activities and encouraging villagers to voluntarily participate in conservation activities. From October 3-5, a two-day education workshop was held at the Royal Manas National Park in Bhutan. The workshop was organized by the EoL project and was attended by about 20 staff from the Bhutan Forest Department, as well as some volunteers from the Assam EoL project.

During the workshop there were presentations about the status of elephants in Bhutan and in Assam, elephant behavior, causes of Human-Elephant conflict (HEC), and addressing conflict through coexistence.  I led the workshop components that specifically addressed coexistence and used various activities to share information and engage participants.  The activities included having participants develop short dramas, participate in a role play situation, and learning how to use energizers to refocus participants’ attention and teach. While at the Park all participants also enjoyed an evening session about elephant husbandry and care with the camp elephants that are used to patrol the park.

Workshop participants

Workshop participants

From Oct 6-8, a second workshop was held in Orang National Park, Assam (India).  The area affected is Udalguri District; there have been many human casualties from HEC as well as some elephant casualties in this region. In this workshop all of the participants were local villagers who are directly affected by HEC.  The workshop started with presentations about the causes of HEC, as well as the use of maps and GPS units to identify elephant habitat.  We also presented a few activities related to coexistence and the participants were very engaged. 

AES would like to thank Mamatha for her hard work for Asian elephants in India.  We are proud to support local people that are so dedicated to saving this amazing species and finding ways for elephants and humans to co-exist. 

A Success Story: Wild Bull Saved from Electrocution

Vanessa Gagne

Every day there are more reports of human-elephant conflict (HEC) in Asia.  In the Paneri tea estate in the Udalguri district of Assam, India, there is a herd of approximately 200 elephants. The elephants’ natural habitat has been completely destroyed so they take refuge in the tea estates during the day and descend on the farmers’ paddy fields and orchards at sunset. On August 28, 2013, a young bull elephant (approximately 18 years old) was electrocuted by live wires that had been left on the ground in the tea estate.  In most cases of electrocution, the elephant dies, but luckily, this bull was still alive.  Dr. Kushal Sarma, our veterinary partner in Assam, was immediately notified of the incident. He was able to send local vets to the site to provide initial treatment until he could arrive. Once he arrived, Dr. Sarma administered additional medications, including IV fluids.

The future looked grim for this wild bull!

The future looked grim for this wild bull!

By the time the bull was beginning to show signs of improvement, approximately 2000 people had gathered around the elephant. Dr. Sarma had to remove the onlookers and bring in a back hoe to help get the bull to his feet.  At first, the bull stumbled a little, but quickly regained his balance and walked off to join a herd of elephants about 400 meters away.  Dr. Sarma said, “He stood and threw a rare glance of gratitude towards me and walked away towards the herd  . . .” Follow up reports from the tea estate manager state that the bull appears to be fine and is not showing any permanent effects from his close call.  

This case confirms the talent and dedication of Dr. Sarma, and AES is very pleased to be working with such an extraordinary individual.  Thank you Dr. Sarma for sharing this case history and thank you to our supporters for making it possible for AES to support dedicated people working to help elephants and their mahouts throughout Asia.