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Projects with Education, Travel, and Research Sponsorships

Human-Elephant Conflict in Asia

Vanessa Gagne

Recently Asian Elephant Support collaborated with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Services’ Asian Elephant Conservation Fund to produce a document titled “Human-Elephant Conflict in Asia”.

Human-elephant conflict (HEC) is a complex interaction between humans and elephants, and represents the detrimental impact both species have on each other. For the purpose of this document, the use of the term ‘HEC’ implies the detrimental impact that elephants have on humans. This takes the form of crop raiding and property damage, and also involves manslaughter and injury to people. The most common negative interaction between human and elephants in this context is crop raiding. Consequently crop raiding is the most referred to aspect when HEC is mentioned in the document.

HEC has been identified as a major threat to elephant conservation by all Asian elephant range countries; they all experience HEC and loss of human life due to elephants. Elephant deaths due to retaliatory killing by people have been reported by most range countries. HEC adversely affects the people who live in and around elephant habitat. It also adversely affects elephants and undermines efforts to conserve the species. The greatest danger HEC poses to elephants is the antagonism it generates among local communities towards elephant conservation. If elephant conservation is to succeed in Asia, then HEC will have to be resolved, or the conflict minimized to the point where it becomes tolerable to local communities.

There are two main constraints in planning and implementing HEC mitigation; one is the absence of a problem analysis guide that helps people work through the complexities of HEC to determine the multiple levels at which different types of interventions are needed. Second is the absence of a comprehensive information source on the different methods (interventions) available for conflict mitigation and how they need to be implemented. Additionally, in the absence of such a document, gaps in our collective conservation knowledge cannot be determined.

The goal of this project was to review existing HEC mitigation efforts in all 13 Asian elephant range countries by reviewing documents, research papers, and meeting reports about HEC, synthesizing the information, and preparing a comprehensive guide that identifies the best approaches and methods to mitigating HEC and acts as the basis for planning and implementing HEC mitigation efforts. This document also effectively channels research to cover gaps in knowledge on HEC and its mitigation across Asia.

The document can be downloaded here:  https://www.fws.gov/international/pdf/Human-Elephant-Conflict-in-Asia-June2015.pdf