An assessment of human-elephant conflict and associated ecological and demographic factors in Nilambur, Western Ghats of Kerala, southern India

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C. K. Rohini
T. Aravindan
P. A. Vinayan
M. Ashokkumar
K.S. Anoop Das


Elephant conservation carries cost in the form of human-elephant conflict and affects the wellbeing of people living near ecologically important areas.  Conflicts impart serious challenges towards the survival of Asian Elephants, which are categorized as Endangered in the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.  Issues of wildlife conservation are least addressed in areas with less restricted categories of protection.  Hence an attempt was made to evaluate the intensity of elephant conflict and factors associated with its occurrence in villages with forest fringes of North and South Forest Divisions of Nilambur, Kerala, southern India.  It was hypothesized that variables such as number of houses, area of village, livestock population, forest frontage, and presence of water source along the forest boundary abutting the village to be the underlying correlates of conflict.  Field studies were conducted fortnightly from June 2014 to May 2015, by visiting farms and households of 17 selected forest fringe villages.  Observational methods, questionnaire surveys and secondary data collection were employed for this purpose.  A total of 277 incidents of crop depredation, 12 incidents of property damage, three human injuries, and one human death due to conflict were recorded during this period.  Crop raiding was highest during post monsoon season and it was low during pre-monsoon and monsoon seasons.  Multiple linear regression results suggest that forest frontage and livestock population were significant predictors of conflict incidence.  Information regarding the prime causes of conflict will be helpful for planning strategies for the establishment of appropriate mitigation methods.  The present study serves as baseline information which will be helpful for formulating prospective management plans.

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