WCS-India have been studying ways to mitigate conflict through connectivity. Along with the Department of Environment and Forest, Government of Assam, the duo is creating a photographic database of individual elephants in the park. Tracking individual elephants could provide valuable insights on the routes each one takes, as well as help identify specific animals prone to raiding paddy fields. An understanding of individual elephant behavior can then be put to use to reduce conflict situations. Interview surveys across estates reveal that most people support conservation but worry about safety.
The ongoing study also reveals that solar lighting for human habitants of tea estates could minimize conflict, given how pachyderms tend to associate bright lights with humans and avoid them. Their conflict mitigation proposal includes forming a network of wildlife friendly tea gardens and educating people against mobbing elephants.
WCS-India is also studying ways to mitigate conflict by addressing connectivity issues and by tracking individual elephants to identify problem ones. Building a database of their population, conducting surveys among human populations, suggesting solutions are some activities undertaken.
Elephant attacks were leading to a heavy loss of life, limb and crops in the bio-diversity hotspots of Jalpaiguri and Duars of northern West Bengal. With tea estates and agricultural lands regularly intersecting forests, these areas host a high human population and see large-scale movement of leopards and elephants.
WCS-India team’s study in association with the Duars Branch of Indian Tea Association, Tea Association of India, West Bengal Forest Department, Asian Nature Conservation Foundation, and Indian Institute of Science, has been exploring ways to resolve human-animal conflict through methods such as camera trappings of leopards and elephant drives, as well as providing compensation to humans.
Conservation can succeed only when it does not negatively impact humans, underlining the importance of local assistance in conservation efforts. The team continues to work in more than 60 tea estates and over 40 villages in the region, with people in 17 high conflict areas being taught measures to avoid encounters from the wild.