Throughout Asia large tracts of forest habitat are being lost. Today, Asian elephants often exist within patches of forests which are surrounded by land occupied by people and crops. Increasing levels of destruction of crops and homes by elephants has led to tension between local communities and elephants; the resultant conflict is a major concern for the future of elephants.
Assam, NE India, has a significant and globally important Asian elephant population; however the many herds here must move through a landscape dominated by tea gardens, rice crops and small rural villages. In many areas villagers suffer significant losses to crop, property and also human life, and these once tolerant communities are often forced to take lethal action against the elephants.
Chester Zoo’s Assam Haathi Project (Haathi is Assamese for elephant), in partnership with Ecosystems-India, has been working in Assam for over a decade. Together with local communities we have implemented a range of methods to help keep elephants and people from harm.
Education and awareness, alternative livelihood and capacity building projects have also led to much improved attitudes towards elephants and community engagement in local conservation projects.
The Assam Haathi Project has worked with dozens of villages, helping protect people and elephants, however there are many more villages and elephants that require assistance. The project has a proven track record of successfully mitigating human-elephant conflict.
Act For Wildlife, with your support, can continue to expand its work throughout the elephant’s range; working towards a landscape where people and elephants can both be safe.
In February 2015 12 members of zoo staff will be taking part in an expedition to Assam in North East India.
Here’s the second update from our lead elephant keeper following on from his visit to Assam, India.
Our lead elephant keeper has been out to Assam to see some of the activities taking place in Assam and the techniques the local people have implemented with our support to help keep elephants and people from harm.