A quantification of damage and assessment of economic loss due to crop raiding by Asian Elephant Elephas maximus (Mammalia: Proboscidea: Elephantidae): a case study of Manas National Park, Assam, India

Main Article Content

Naba K. Nath
Sushil K. Dutta
Jyoti P. Das
Bibhuti P. Lahkar


A study was carried out in Manas National Park, Assam in northeastern India between 2007 and 2009 to understand the magnitude of human-elephant conflict through a quantification of damage and assessment of economic loss. A cluster of six villages adjacent to the Park was selected for this study. Five major agricultural crops were grown during the study period of which three were raided by elephants: winter paddy, autumn paddy and pulses. Paddy was the principle crop central to the farmers’ subsistence. Winter paddy was the most cultivated crop and autumn paddy was the least cultivated. The incidence rate of crop raiding was highest for autumn paddy and lowest for pulses. Overall economic loss due to crop raiding was negligible, however at the individual farmer level, it was quite high. The study revealed that human-elephant conflict is not so severe, indicating ample opportunity for human-elephant coexistence in the region. Crop fields adjacent to the Park were particularly vulnerable to crop raiding which necessitates creation of a buffer zone. The frequency of raiding and the extent of damage was found to be significantly less in crop fields which were guarded by farmers. This was due to traditional crop guarding practices being followed in the region, the strengthening of which could effectively reduce annual crop loss and thus human-elephant conflict could be minimized to a large extent.

Article Details

Author Biographies

Naba K. Nath, State Resource Centre Dispur, 31, Jatia, Kahilipara Road, Dispur, Guwahati, Assam 781006, India

Naba Krishna Nath is a Programme Coordinator of State Resource Centre Dispur. He completed PhD on HEC in Manas National Park. He completed several research projects on Asian Elephant, Hispid Hare, bird community structure, camera trapping of tigers, etc. He is now working on the social aspects of HEC.

Sushil K. Dutta, Centre for Ecological Sciences, Indian Institute of Science, Bengaluru, Karnataka 560012, India

Sushil Kumar Dutta, one of the renowned herpetologists of the world and prominent developmental biologist of India, has authored several books and more than 100 research articles. He is a member of different scientific and technical committees of Government of India and involved in conservation policy making.

Jyoti P. Das, Aaranyak, 50, Samanwoy Path, Survey, Beltola, Guwahati, Assam 781028, India

Jyoti P. Das is a field biologist associated with Aaranyak since 2005. He has been conducting research on large mammal ecology in Assam and is presently involved in identifying spatial patterns of HEC and present status of corridors in Golaghat District, Assam.

Bibhuti P. Lahkar, Aaranyak, 50, Samanwoy Path, Survey, Beltola, Guwahati, Assam 781028, India

Bibhuti P. Lahkar is the Programme Secretary of Aaranyak. He has been conducting research and monitoring of the grassland ecosystem dynamics in Manas National Park since 2001. He coordinates the Asian Elephant Research & Conservation Programme of Aaranyak.


Asian Elephant Research & Conservation Centre, AERCC (2003). Study of Elephants in Buxa Tiger Reserve and adjoining areas in Northern West Bengal and preparation of Conservation Action Plan. AERCC, Bangalore.

Balmford, A., J.L. Moore, T. Brooks, N. Burgess, L. Hansen, P. Williams & C. Rahbek (2001). Conservation conflicts across Africa. Science 291: 2616–2619.

Bandara, R. & C.A. Tisdell (2002). Asian elephants as agricultural pests: economics of control and compensation in Sri Lanka. Natural Resources Journal 42(3): 491–519.

Barnes, R.F.W., S. Asika & B. Asamoah-Boateng (1995). Timber, cocoa and crop-raiding elephants: a preliminary study from southern Ghana. Pachyderm 19: 33–38.

Bell, R.H.V. (1984). The man-animal interface: An assessment of crop damage and wildlife control, pp. 387–416. In: R.H.V. Bell & McShane-Caluzi (eds.). Conservation and Wildlife Management in Africa. US Peace Corps Seminar, Malawi.

Bhima, R. (1998). Elephant status and conflict with humans on the western bank of Liwonde National Park, Malawi. Pachyderm 25: 74–80.

CEPF (2005). Critical Ecosystem Partnership Fund, Ecosystem Profile, Eastern Himalayas Region. Final Version, February 2005. WWF-US, Asia Program, 100pp.

Ekobo, A. (1997). Elephant problem in the Mungo Division, littoral province (Cameroon). Pachyderm 24: 53–63.

Fernando, P., E. Wikramanayake, D. Weerakoon, L.K.A. Jayasinghe, M. Gunawardene & H.K. Janaka (2005). Perceptions and patterns of human-elephant conflict in old and new settlements in Sri Lanka: insights for mitigation and management. Biodiversity and Conservation 14(10): 2465–2481; http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s10531-004-0216-z

Jackson, R. & R. Wangchuk (2001). Linking Snow Leopard conservation and people-wildlife conflict resolution: grassroots measures to protect the endangered snow leopard from herder retribution. Endangered Species Update 18: 138–141.

Jayantha, D. & P. Dunusinghe (2013). Human-Elephant conflict in Hambegamuwa, Sri Lanka: From Vulnerability to Resilience. In proceedings of International Conference on Building Resilience, 17th–19th September 2013, Ahungalle, Sri Lanka.

Kumar, M.A. & M. Singh (2010). Behaviour of Asian Elephant (Elephas maximus) in a land-use mosaic: implications for human-elephant coexistence in the Anamalai hills, India. Wildlife Biology in Practice 6: 69–80; http://dx.doi.org/10.2461/wbp.2010.6.6

Lahkar, B.P., J.P. Das, N.K. Nath, P.K. Sarma & K. Brahma (2009). Conservation of Asian Elephant Elephas maximus through Research, Education and Community participation in Manas National Park, India. Technical Report_Aaranyak_ERCI_01/2009.72pp.

Lahm, S.A. (1996). A nationwide status survey of crop raiding by elephants and other species in Gabon. Pachyderm 21: 69–77.

Lhamo, N. (2008). Extent of human-elephant conflicts and the threat to elephant populations in southern Bhutan. Master’s Thesis.University of Natural Resources and Applied Life Sciences, Vienna, 75pp.

Linkie, M., Y. Dinata, A. Nofrianto & N. Leader-Williams (2007). Patterns and perceptions of wildlife crop raiding in and around Kerinci Seblat National Park, Sumatra. Animal Conservation 10(1): 127–135; http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/j.1469-1795.2006.00083.x

Nath, N.K., B.P. Lahkar, N. Brahma, S. Dey, J.P. Das, P.K. Sarma & B.K. Talukdar (2009). An assessment of human-elephant conflict in Manas National Park, Assam, India. Journal of Threatened Taxa 1(6): 309–316; http://dx.doi.org/10.11609/JoTT.o1821.309-16

Nath, N.K., S.K. Dutta, J.P. Das & B.P. Lahkar(2013). Human-Elephant interaction in villages around Manas National Park, Assam, India. Gajah 39: 12–18.

Naughton-Treves, L. (1998). Predicting Patterns of Crop Damage by Wildlife around Kibale National Park, Uganda. Conservation Biology 12(1): 156–158; http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/j.1523-1739.1998.96346.x

Ngure, N. (1995). People-elephant conflict management in Tsavo, Kenya. Pachyderm 19: 20–25.

Nijman V. & K.A.I. Nekaris (2010). Testing a model for predicting primate crop-raiding using crop and farm-specific risk values. Applied Animal Behaviour Science 127(3–4): 125–129; http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.applanim.2010.08.009

Nyhus, P.J., S.A. Osofsky, P. Ferraro, F. Madden & H. Fischer (2005).Bearing the costs of human-wildlife conflict: The challenges of compensation schemes, pp. 107–121. In: Woodroffe, R., S. Thirgood & A. Rabinowitz (eds.). People and Wildlife: Conflict or Coexistence? Cambridge University Press, London; http://dx.doi.org/10.1017/cbo9780511614774.008

O’Connell-Rodwell, C.E., T. Rodwell, M. Rice & L.A. Hart (2000).Living with the modern conservation paradigm: can agricultural communities co-exist with elephants? A five-year case study in East Caprivi, Namibia. Biological Conservation 93(3): 381–391; http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/s0006-3207(99)00108-1

Osborn, F.V. & G.E. Parker (2002). Living with elephants II; a manual. MZEP, 37 Lewisam Ave, Chisipite, Harare, Zimbabwe, 21pp.

Osborn, F.V. & G.E. Parker (2003).Towards an integrated approach for reducing the conflict between elephants and people: a review of current research. Oryx 37(1): 80–84; http://dx.doi.org/10.1017/s0030605303000152

Osei-Owusu, Y. & L. Bakker (2008). “Human-Wildlife Conflict, FAOâ€. Elephant Technical Manual, 45pp.

Parker, G.E. & F.V. Osborn (2001). Dual-season crop damage by elephants in eastern Zambezi Valley, Zimbabwe. Pachyderm 30: 49–56.

Pimm, S., G. Russell, J. Gittleman & T. Brooks (1995). The future of biodiversity. Science 269(5222): 347–350; http://dx.doi.org/10.1126/science.269.5222.347

Radhakrishna S. & A. Sinha (2010). Living with Elephants: Exploring the Nature and Cause of Human-Elephant Conflict in India. NIAS Backgrounder on Conflict Resolution, B2-2010, National Institute of Advanced Studies, Bangalore, 39pp.

Rahmani, A.R., G. Narayan, R. Sankaran & L. Rosalind (1988). The Bengal Florican, status and ecology, annual report 1986–87. Bombay Natural History Society, Bombay, India, 209pp.

Rahmani, A.R., G. Narayan & L. Rosalind (1989). Threat to India’s Manas Tiger Reserve. Unpublished report for the Ministry of Environment & Forests, 12pp.

Roy, P.B. & R. Sah (2012). Economic loss analysis of crop yield due to elephant raiding: a case study of Buxa Tiger Reserve (West) West Bengal, India. Journal of Economics and Sustainable Development 3(10): 83–88.

Sarma, P.K., B.P. Lahkar, S. Ghosh, A. Rabha, J.P. Das, N.K. Nath, S. Dey & N. Brahma (2008). Land use and Land cover change and future implication analysis in Manas National Park, India using Multi-temporal satellite data. Current Science 95(2): 223–227.

Sukumar, R. (1990). Ecology of the Asian elephant in southern India: II. Feeding habits and crop raiding patterns. Journal of Tropical Ecology 6(1): 33–53; http://dx.doi.org/10.1017/s0266467400004004

Thouless, C.R. (1994). Conflict between human and elephants on private land in northern Kenya. Oryx 28(2): 119–127; http://dx.doi.org/10.1017/s0030605300028428

Varma, S. & B.P. Lahkar (2006). Capacity building on elephant research and conservation issues in northeast India. An unpublished technical report prepared by Aaranyak and Asian Elephant Research and Conservation Centre (AERCC), 61pp.

Varma, S., K.G. Avinash & L. Vinay (2011). Human-Elephant Conflict in Mysore Forest Division: Patterns, Causes and Responses. Asian Nature Conservation Foundation, Bangalore, 165pp.

Varma, S., P. Sarkar & V. Menon (2008). Pakke Pachyderms: Ecology and Conservation of Asian elephant in Kameng Elephant Reserve, Arunachal Pradesh. Widlife Trust of India, New Delhi, 148pp.

Warren, Y., B. Buba & C. Ross (2007). Patterns of crop-raiding by wild and domestic animals near Gashaka Gumti National Park, Nigeria. International Journal of Pest Management 53(3): 207–216; http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/09670870701288124

Williams, A.C. & A.J.T. Johnsingh (1997). A Status Survey of Elephants (Elephasmaximus), their Habitats and an Assessment of the Elephant-Human Conflict in Garo Hills, Meghalaya. Wildlife Institute of India. Dehra Dun, India.

Woodroffe, R. & J. Ginsberg (1998). Edge effects and the extinction of populations inside protected areas. Science 280(5332): 2126–2128; http://dx.doi.org/10.1126/science.280.5372.2126