tonnes of co2 emitted
acres of forest lost
Over the last 60 years, the number of Asian elephants in the wild has halved. And numbers are still falling, as the human population expands into the elephants’ ancient habitats.
But with our help, a local project is helping people live peacefully alongside the sacred elephants.
Assam, India, is the site of one of the world’s most extreme conflicts between people and elephants.
The people of Assam literally worship elephants. But as the human population has grown, it has encroached on the habitats and pathways that Asian elephants have trodden for generations. Now, the animals raid crops, damage homes, and even cause injuries and death.
This has left local people feeling they have no choice but to injure, or even kill, the elephants that they hold so sacred. It’s a heartbreaking conflict. And as the human population continues to grow, the situation is becoming even more challenging.
Even so, there is a solution. Act For Wildlife supports the Assam Haathi Project (haathi is Hindi for elephant), which works with Ecosystems India to help the communities affected by this conflict. The project teaches safe, humane techniques for protecting their crops and properties. The people get the knowledge and confidence they need, and the elephants get safe passage across the land.
The project is also working to understand the needs of the elephants, with the long-term goal of regenerating and protecting their vital forest habitat.
By working directly with the community, and studying the Asian elephants, the Assam Haathi Project is working to resolve this difficult conflict, and rescue a magnificent animal from extinction.
Project Officer, Eco-systems India
My job covers setting up, coordinating and managing community-based initiatives, delivering alternative livelihood training to the local communities, preparing human-elephant conflict mitigation planning, mapping and implementation, building awareness, environmental education and participatory rural appraisal (PRA) activities. If it sounds like a big job, that is because it is – a big job to help save a big animal.
Our main aim is to work closely with local communities, providing them with safe and humane techniques to protect their property and crops from elephant damage. We also conduct research to understand more about what elephants need, how often conflict occurs, and how they use the landscapes of Assam.
With the help of Act for Wildlife and Chester Zoo, we are now able to do things such as GIS mapping of the elephants so we know their movements, as well as implementing successful community education and learning about the nutritional needs of the elephants.
This kind of international collaboration is vital to our success. With increased funding and better awareness, we can begin to expand our work, employ more field staff and help communities and elephants across the whole of Assam.
Conservation is a long-term effort. The hours are long and most often dictated by the activities of the elephants. I have seen methods such as catapults and stoning used to repel the animals, so it is my pleasure to work with communities and help them learn to live in harmony with the elephants.
I hope people will join me and Act for Wildlife to help us save elephants. They really are too precious to lose.
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