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Projects in Bhutan

Getting Along with Elephants

Chris Rico

Community Engagement & Elephant Habitat Restoration in Royal Manas National Park, Bhutan

The funding of this project by AES and other NGOs started in March of 2016 when the Royal Manas National Park Department of Forestry began a community-led habitat restoration project. The project location, in the village of Tanzema, has been home to both humans and wild elephants for many generations. The local residents have become the activity leaders, planners, and the laborers in an effort to replenish the area around the community to a more elephant and human-friendly ecosystem. By creating elephant-enticing areas around the villages they are hoping to mitigate human-elephant conflict.

Since the last update, jackfruit tree seeds have been sown, 200 napier grass stumps have been planted, along with 50 banana plants. The local villagers have agreed to sow new jackfruit seeds every season, while the grasses will take root and spread like annual wild grasses that self sow. The watering hole and artificial mineral salt licks (replenished by the villagers) have proven critical components to keeping the elephants satiated.

For the villagers and their dedication, a clean water system was installed on the perimeter of the village. Also a multi unit community center has been constructed and finishing touches on the inside are nearing completion. Lastly, a kilometer-long walking trail was developed to provide the experience of watching wild animals at a safe distance. This trail is also used for herding cattle within the village.

We are so proud of the work from the villagers and the Royal Manas National Park Department of Forestry. This project is the first of its kind in Bhutan and they were recognized by the Balipara Foundation based in Assam during the Eastern Himalaya Naturenomics Forum in November 2018.

A BIG Trunks Up to the First Elephant Friendly Village in Bhutan!