An assessment of human-elephant conflict in Manas National Park, Assam, India

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N.K. Nath
B.P. Lahkar
N. Brahma
S. Dey
J.P Das
P.K. Sarma
B.K. Talukdar

Abstract

An assessment of human-elephant conflict was carried out in the fringe villages around Manas National Park, Assam during 2005-06. The available forest department conflict records since 1991 onwards were also incorporated during analysis. Conflict was intense in the months of July-August and was mostly concentrated along the forest boundary areas, decreasing with distance from the Park. Crop damage occurred during two seasons; paddy (the major crop) suffered the most due to raiding. Crop maturity and frequency of raiding were positively correlated. Single bull elephants were involved in conflicts more frequently (59%) than female herds (41%), while herds were involved in majority of crop raiding cases. Of the single elephants, 88% were makhnas and 11.9% were tuskers. The average herd size recorded was 8 individuals, with group size ranging up to 16. Mitigation measures presently adopted involve traditional drive-away techniques including making noise by shouting, drum beating, bursting fire crackers and firing gun shots into the air, and using torch light, pelting stones and throwing burning torches. Kunkis have been used in severe cases. Machans are used for guarding the crops. Combinations of methods are most effective. Family herds were easily deflected, while single bulls were difficult to ward off. Affected villagers have suggested methods like regular patrolling (39%) by the Forest Department officials along the Park boundary, erection of a concrete wall (18%) along the Park boundary, electric fencing (13%), simply drive away (13%), culling (11%) and lighting the Park boundary during night hours (6%). Attempts to reduce conflict by changing the traditional cropping pattern by introducing some elephant-repellent alternative cash crops (e.g. lemon and chilli) are under experiment.

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How to Cite
[1]
Nath, N., Lahkar, B., Brahma, N., Dey, S., Das, J., Sarma, P. and Talukdar, B. 2009. An assessment of human-elephant conflict in Manas National Park, Assam, India. Journal of Threatened Taxa. 1, 6 (Jun. 2009), 309–316. DOI:https://doi.org/10.11609/JoTT.o1821.309-16.
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Author Biographies

N.K. Nath

NABA KRISHNA NATH is a field researcher associated with Aaranyak since 2005. He started his research work on Asian Elephants and is currently looking after the critical aspects of human-elephant interactions in Manas National Park. He is also presently involved in a rapid presence/ absence survey of Hispid Hare in the north bank landscape of Assam and Arunachal Pradesh. BIBHUTI

B.P. Lahkar

P LAHKAR, the programme secretary of Aaranyak (also the Principal Investigator of this present project) has been conducting research and monitoring of the grassland ecosystem dynamics in Manas National Park since 2001. Currently he is coordinating the Asian Elephant Research & Conservation Programme of Aaranyak.

N. Brahma

NAMITA BRAHMA is a field researcher associated with Aaranyak since 2005. She started her research career on large mammals in Manas National Park and then shifted to birds. Presently she is looking after the Bengal Florican Research and Monitoring Programme in the north bank landscape.

S. Dey

SANTANU DEY is a field researcher associated with Aaranyak since 2005. He is a field taxonomist and is involved in documentation and conservation of flora of northeastern India.

J.P Das

JYOTI P DAS is a field researcher associated with Aaranyak since 2005. He has been conducting research on large mammal ecology in northeastern India and is presently involved in habitat utilization and habitat suitability modelling studies on Asian elephant in Manas National Park.

P.K. Sarma

PRANJIT K SARMA is the programme coordinator of the Planning & GIS of Aaranyak. He has the responsibity to integrate and manage the biodiversity related information (spatial and non spatial) of northeastern India in to GIS environment. Currently he is involved in research on habitat analysis of different species, environment Manslaughter-Human injury DATE: DATASHEET NO.: VILLAGE: OBSERVER: SNo. Date Victim Age-sex Death/Minor/Major injury Animal responsible Herd/single (M/T)/rogue GPS location SNo. Age-sex classification of animal Possible cause Compensation claimed, Yes/No Received, Yes/No Remarks Crop damage assessment in Manas National Park DATE: DATASHEET NO.: VILLAGE: OBSERVER: SNo. Date of incident Name of victim GPS location Type of Crop Phenology Extent of cultivation (Area) Extent of damage (Area) SNo. Season of cultivation Animal responsible Single/Herd (size) Age-sex classification Mitigation methods used Efficacy (%) SNo. Compensation claimed, Yes/No Received, Yes/No Are you satisfied with Effective mitigation measure Remark the compensation system? according to you SNo. Place of incident GPSLocation Age/sex of the animal Age of the carcass Possible cause Distance from Remarks of death village / forest Elephant death due to conflict Property damage assessment DATE: DATASHEET NO.: VILLAGE: OBSERVER: SNo. Date of incident Victim Name of structure Damage partial/complete GPS location Animal responsible: Single/Herd (size) SNo. Age-sex classification Cause of visit Compensation claimed, Yes/No Received, Yes/No Remarks Appendix 1. Data sheets used during the study. 316 and deforestation.

B.K. Talukdar

DR. BIBHAB K TALUKDAR, Secretary General of Aaranyak, (also presently the Co-chair of Asian Rhino Specialist Group, IUCN/SSC) has conducted a good lot of studies on human-elephant conflict issues in Assam. He has published his papers in many journals and has presented his research works at many national and international seminars. He is also a member of National Board of Wildlife, Government of India.