An assessment of human-elephant conflict in Manas National Park, Assam, India
Journal of Threatened Taxa
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
... 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.