HEC in Bhutan has become an increasing problem, especially around the perimeter of the Royal Manas National Park (RMNP). Mr. Yeshy Wangdi is a forestry official from the area and has conducted several HEC awareness programs in nearby schools over the years. This past year the classes were held at two local schools within the RMNP buffer zone. The goal is for students to learn the natural history, biology, and ultimately the cultural value of elephants within their society. The hope is for these children to go on and teach their relatives and other community members about the importance of saving elephants within their country and how to coexist peacefully. The program consisted of a PowerPoint presentation, a role-play enactment of elephant conflict, prizes, and a Q&A session. After following up with the students, Mr. Wangdi found and overall 75% increase in positive attitude towards elephants from the kids. We’d call that a success!
Projects in Bhutan
“The current trend of human-elephant conflict in Bhutan is very scary. This is because it involves two important dimensions – the livelihood of the poor farmer and conservation of the endangered Asian elephants.”
The above quote, submitted by Yeshey Wangdi, Senior Park Ranger, Royal Manas National Park, is in his final report covering the first series of community workshops. Ranger Wangdi is offering HEC mitigation workshops to communities created by government resettlement in areas that were previously forested elephant corridors and are now experiencing a steadily increasing incidence of human-elephant conflict. The workshop includes some general biology and behavior of elephants as well as the do’s and don’ts of living with elephants. Mini dramas were performed to help the people understand more peaceful ways of coexisting with these large and strong pachyderms, and school bags were given to all students and teachers, with their agreement to share the HEC awareness program with their nearby communities.
As Ranger Wangdi so succinctly states, “HEC entails need for strategy that will favorably create win-win for both the parties (people and elephants)”.