Best Practices of Human Elephant Conflict Management in India
India has the largest number of wild Asian Elephants, estimated at 29,964 according to 2017 census by Project Elephant, i.e. about 60% of the species’ global population. Friction between humans and elephants termed Human-Elephant Conflict (HEC) occurs mainly over space and is a major conservation concern across the country for governments, conservationists and people living close to the wild animals. Loss of natural habitat and fragmentation have been bringing wild elephants closer to human habitations, sparking these conflicts. Over 500 humans are killed in encounters with elephants annually, and crops and property worth millions are also damaged. Many elephants are also killed in retaliation due to conflict. To tackle such conflicts and avoid losses on both sides, it is important to strengthen the human-elephant coexistence through by active management interventions by the State Forest Departments, involvement of various stakeholders and sensitization and generating awareness in local communities of forest fringe areas.