The population of elephants all over the world is threatened today by the loss and degradation of its natural habitats, poaching, killing for ivory and so on. The rate at which the jungles are cleaned away and trees are chopped down for the purpose of irrigation and other development works, the elephants have no other choice, but to infiltrate into the colony of the human beings and cause great devastation. Every year, plenty of elephants lose their lives because their access to the important resources is blocked by the greedy human beings. The clash between the human beings and elephants is certainly a very serious problem that needs critical attention. The Human Elephant conflict (HEC) is certainly one of the biggest environmental and wildlife challenges that needs to be controlled to prevent the elephant population worldwide.
What actually is Human Elephant Conflict (HEC)?
A human elephant conflict is essentially a situation where the elephants pose a great danger to the livelihood and safety of the human community by intruding into their fields, damaging crops and buildings. In order to protect themselves, people retaliate by harming or killing the elephants. This leads to a situation where every year hundreds of elephants are being killed by the humans and the numbers are still rising. Let us explore the two main prominent that give rise to these conflicts:
- Loss of Habitat: Thousands of hectares of forest land in the various parts of India are lost every year due to the human encroachment and converted for the purpose of development and farming. This illegal activity has certainly gone on to squeeze the elephant habitat. It has lead to a situation where the elephants are moving into the regions where people live for the purpose of searching food and water. As a result, they have been highly responsible for the damage to the homes, crops and sometimes, people. The human beings, in retaliation kill the elephants by shooting, poisoning or stoning them.
- Growing Favorite Crops: Many farmers in India grow crops or fruits that the elephants cannot resist such as the banana, sugarcane, maize, corn, etc. Consequently, the hungry elephants invade the farms and destroy the crops. A group of elephants can devastate the entire farming area in a matter of minutes. This causes a huge financial loss, especially to the poor farmers. In such a situation, people do not have any other option left, but to kill the elephants to safeguard their crops.
Steps Taken to Prevent this Ever Growing Conflict
Over the years, some of the important steps have been taken by the forest officials as well as the government to prevent the HEC conflict. Some of them are as follows:
- Barriers and Fences: The robust and well-maintained barriers have been erected to prevent the elephants from intruding into the human beings community and destroying vast hectares of farmland.
- Driving Away Elephants Physically: Some of the traditional methods such as the beating drums, shouting loudly, exploding fire crackers, etc. are still being used to drive away the elephants. These tactics help in preventing the crop loss and buildings to some extent.
- Volunteer Squads: In some parts of India, volunteer squads of group of people have been constituted. The main work of this group is to chase away the approaching elephants with the help of the fire crackers and search lights.
The loss in this human-elephant conflict is extremely huge and to prevent this, concrete steps are being taken by the government, forest officials and NGO's to minimize the toll of death and devastation. Large no of National Parks and wildlife sanctuaries are being made all over to protect many such species. Strict restrictions must be imposed wiping away the forest area so that the elephants can survive in their very own natural habitat. This will not prevent the land of the human beings from the elephant encroachment, but also go a long way in arresting the declining population of the elephants.
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Jessica Frei is a wildlife enthusiast and a blogger too, she likes to travel different national parks and wildlife sanctuaries all over the globe. She is currently in India for her wildlife tour. She always shares her experience through articles and blogs.