Feb 9, 2024

Main Factors Influencing Human Elephant Conflict and Providing Evidence Based Conflict Mitigation Strategies in Nepal Terai Title
Human-Elephant Conflict Landscape in Nepal's Terai

Elephants, in comparison to other megafauna, have a larger niche. They stray into human territories because the quality of their habitat is diminishing and there are less resources available for them to survive inside the forest (Goswami, 2017). Forest cover of many South Asian elephant range countries like Sri lanka (22%), Peninsular Malaysia (32%), Cambodia (20%), Myanmar (10%), China (44%) had declined at a tremendous rate till the beginning of the 21st century (Desai, & Riddle, 2015). The abundant food supply on the agricultural field is more appealing to the animal than the deteriorated forest habitat. As a result, it is the primary cause of increased human-elephant contacts and conflict (Ram et al., 2020). India devotes about 60 to 70 percent of its annual budget for conservation of elephant on HEC mitigation. Yet, the human fatality by elephants has soared to about 400 every year (Rangarajan et al., 2010).
Human Elephant Conflict in Nepal
Nepal is one of the most populous countries in South Asia. The elephant's natural habitat in Nepal is being impacted by the country's rapidly growing population (Ram & Acharya, 2020). Encroachment on elephants' native habitat along with the subsequent development operations have fragmented the remnant habitats, deteriorating its overall quality (Sukumar, 2006; Ram & Acharya, 2020; bRam et al., 2021). Furthermore, notwithstanding the existence of multiple conservation areas dedicated to the species, the poor connectivity between the protected areas compels elephants to venture out to human territory (Mandal, 2019). As a result, the risk of human-elephant encounters has risen in tandem with the number of conflict episodes in the country (Pant et al., 2016; Perera, 2009). Thus, regardless, of the fact that the country sports a maximum population of roughly 200-250 individuals, elephants are the most notorious species, causing the maximum damage infliction towards human wellbeing (Bajimaya 2012; Neupane et al., 2014; Neupane et al., 2017; Ram & Acharya, 2020; Shrestha & Shrestha, 2021). Nepal’s lowland, Terai, has the most prevalent HEC within the country. The most common ruinous consequence of HEC in Nepal is elephant crop raiding, which is more widespread than property damage and human mortality (Neupane et al. 2017; Shrestha et al. 2007; Yadav 2004). As a result of these incidents, a quarter of the overall revenue from total crop output in the conflict zone is lost annually (Shrestha, 2007). These huge losses are the main reason for decreasing tolerance and increasing hostility of the locals towards elephants and the conservation authorities active in the area (Abdullah et al., 2019; Gunaryadi et al., 2017; Saif et al., 2019). Further within a span of two decades according to aRam et al., (2021), elephants have been responsible for 412 incidents, including 274 fatalities and 138 injury cases in Nepal, with the majority of the incidents occurring during attempts to chase the elephant back to the forest from the fields. The effect has been found to be equally deleterious towards elephants as towards the community. According to Mandal (2019) and Neupane et al. (2014) it was studied that around 2 elephants are killed approximately each year in retaliation.
Conflict Mitigation Measures Adopted in Nepal
Since ancient times, a myriad of conventional ways have been used to effectively reduce HEC. The mitigation strategies in Nepal can be summarized into Traditional. Modern and Tolerance building strategies.Traditional methods such as chasing the elephants away from villages by shouting and making loud noises with the help of firecrackers, drums and utensils while using fire torches and throwing stones has been observed to be the most applied strategies (Neupane et al., 2018). Machan (Watch Towers) erected at the fields allows for an early warning on the elephant raid which has been one of the most useful and successful strategies for minimizing the losses due to HEC (Thapa Karki, 2010).


Swechha Raut

Research Officer

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