Thursday, 29 August 2019

Human-elephant conflicts in India - they continue unabated

Human-elephant conflicts in India,
elephant attack. killed 369 people  in Odisha since 2015.
Elephants and tigers kill one human a day. Govt. data times of
In India, the human-elephant conflicts are on the increase for various reasons, the most important one being the close proximity of human settlement  to the elephant habitat or the range. This results in the confrontation between  big animals and humans when the former are either migrating or foraging for food. The conflicts between humans and elephants assume  great threats to their sustained existence. Various studies on the elephant-human conflicts have concluded that in Asia and also in Africa crop raiding is the main conflict that is wrought with danger. This conflict results in death and destruction.  According to  Alexandra Zimmermann, chair of the International Union for Conservation of Nature's (IUCN) Task Force on Human-Wildlife conflict, ''Human-animal conflict is one of the biggest challenges for conservation efforts - especially for large species which get lots of attention,"
Angry elephant.
In India annually on an average  up to 300 people get killed as a result of  human-elephant conflicts and there is no sign of any slow down despite the measures being taken by the state governments. Tigers and elephants kill one human a day in India.  

Crop raider in Jharkhand state
 Above image: A marauding elephant in Jharkhand state has trampled at least 15 local people to death in the past few months in 2017. According to the Indian environment ministry, 1,144 people were killed in elephant and tiger attacks between April 2014 and May 2017. Experts say the numbers could be much higher if attacks by leopards and other wild animals were included in the list..............................................
Elephant in rage.

Shrinkage of habitat or habitat loss may trigger ripple effects leading to crop raiding, injuries and deaths to humans by elephants. In Tamil Nadu in places like Coimbatore district, the elephants raid  crops close to the villages and sometimes raid the houses as well  looking for food, water, etc. So, the people in the fringe areas of the wooded places are living in constant fear of being attacked by the elephants. Pachyderms in groups raid banana, jack fruit plantations, etc and cause heavy financial loss to the small farmers who own less than 10 acres and eke out living on a small budget.  Crop damages sometimes run into a few thousand dollars to millions of dollars. Every year, 100 humans (in some years it may be 300 people) and 40-50 elephants are killed during crop raiding in India. Yet another fact is both endangered elephants and tigers are killing a person a day

Humans kill elephants for reasons of destruction of their properties and not for the reason of securing the ivory. Plantation workers in remote places feel the big animals are a threat to their lives and livelihood. So, they take the extreme step of retaliation against them which is a sign of human arrogance and dominance.  In NE India more than 60 elephants were found dead in the recent past and this was due to retaliation against the elephants by the locals. They  were on the look out for food for survival in the wake of fragmentation of their habitast.

It is to be borne in mind serious efforts should be taken to minimize the confrontation between elephants and humans to contain death on both sides and steps need to be taken  for the  conservation of Asian elephants and their habitat. Why do  elephants raid the crops? There may be many reasons, but one fact emerges from the studies;  they prefer raiding crops to  feeding on wild forage because of their higher nutritive content and palatability. Studies also point out that not all elephants in a population raid the nearby crops.  Only fragmented landscapes  with no contiguous area with wide range may force the entire elephant population to move out looking for water and food. Deforestation, degradation of landscapes cause food loss and scarcity of water. The habitat loss may have a heavy toll on the animals that need lots of food and water for survival and they are driven to desperation.

The government must  take careful  steps to preserve the elephant habitats and safeguard the corridors through which they migrate from one region to another to mitigate the loss of humans and animals. Of course, the growing human population is squeezing the habitats of animals, as a result, the conservationist have a challenging job ahead and they have  control deaths on both sides

and safeguard the animals, especially those that are listed as endangered.