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Human - Elephant Conflict
By. Dr.Anand & Geeta N Pereira

Jun 8, 2008

The Western Ghats, recognized globally as one of the eight HOTTEST HOT SPOTS of biodiversity is one of the largest unbroken pieces of forest. The exciting news is that these evergreen tropical forests are likely to be included in the list of world heritage sites (2009) by the United Nations. To date there are six natural heritage sites in India which include the Valley of flowers and Nanda Devi Biosphere reserve, Kaziranga National Park, Manas Wildlife Sanctuary, Sunderban and Keoladeo National Park.

The western Ghat forest ranges are home to wildlife sanctuaries, National parks, Tiger reserves, and biodiversity coffee plantations. The Bandipur National park flanked by Nagarahole National park, Madhumalai wild life sanctuary and Wayanad wildlife sanctuary, together constitute the protected NILGIRI BIOSPHERE reserve, which is India’s first biosphere reserve. This reserve is a key breeding landscape for tigers, elephants, sambars, and other mega fauna.

These spectacular Ghats comprising of mountain ranges, steep valleys, rivers, rivulets and pristine forests cover an area of about 160,000 square kilometers. Indian coffee is a proud partner of this biosphere reserve and plays a pivotal role in providing unrestricted migratory routes for many migratory animals and supports their need for forage, food, shade and water during dry spells and act as a refuge for residential and endangered species.

The coffee forests in particular act as migratory corridors for the movement of elephant herds from one region to the other.

CRITICAL PERIOD:

In recent years there is a growing threat of human intervention resulting in the Western Ghats suffering an annual deforestation rate of 1.16 per cent despite 15 per cent of their land area being protected as wild life sanctuaries. Due to timber logging and rampant poaching for ivory, the forest itself is in trouble. All that remains are fragments of a once pristine wildlife habitat. Wild elephants are increasingly shifting base from the floor of the forest and taking sanctuary inside shade grown ecofriendly coffee plantations.

ECO-FRIENDLY COFFEE: Multiple crops are commonly grown along with coffee. Pepper vines are grown on shade trees, cardamom, Areca nut, Ginger, orange, Citrus, Vanilla and a few other spices are grown as multiple crops inside the Coffee Plantations. Rice and bananas are commercially grown in the valleys. 

Wild Elephants find food in plentiful inside the coffee farms and this leads to negative interactions between humans and elephants, commonly referred to as the Human elephant conflict. Elephants spend about three-quarters of their time, day and night, selecting, picking, preparing and eating food. An adult elephant in the wild will eat in the region of 100 to 200 Kg (220 to 440 lb.) of vegetation per day depending on the habitat and the size of the elephant.

The number of plant species eaten by any one elephant may vary but it is likely to be more than fifty. We have witnessed widespread human elephant conflict for the past two decades. Our observations point out to the fact that the conflict is getting out of hand resulting in the destruction of crops on one side and the death and decline of these magnificent gentle giants on the other side. Something needs to be done on a war footing to conserve these endangered elephants and alleviate the sufferings of the subsistence farmers.

CONSERVATION EFFORTS AT JOE’S SUSTAINABLE FARM:

Adults and Children in particular are enlightened on different aspects of elephant behavior. They are also taught to feel and feed the elephants with the help of an experienced trainer.

CONCLUSION:

World Environment day, commemorated each year on June 5th is one of the principal vehicles through which the United Nations stimulates worldwide awareness of the environment. It’s perhaps a good occasion to sit back and take stock of the state of our environment. We need to give mother earth a chance to repair itself from man made problems like deforestation and rapid Industrialization. Our commitment for a better earth must be articulated in terms of future generations.

On a global scale, nearly 525 million hectares of land world wide have been designated as nature parks, wildlife refuges and National reserves. The danger from our point of view is that the management of these game sanctuaries and biosphere reserves is based on political outlook rather than ecological considerations. It is high time that conservationists change their strategy in protecting wildlife. The natural biogeographical zones of an entire ecosystem, with its associated land, water, air and wildlife resources must be managed as a unit if we are to preserve the integrity of these ecologically sensitive hotspots.
We also need to realize that wildlife cannot be safeguarded without mankind’s determined sacrifice to protect them for fear of living in a world of darkness.

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION :

INDIAN ELEPHANT: STATUS: Endangered. South India houses a population of around 8000 and North India around 7000. In all there are 25,600 to 32,750 Asian elephants (in 13 range Countries) left in the wild with an additional 15,000 in captivity.

 Unlike the African elephant only the males of the Indian elephants have tusks, and a part of the genetic population called MAKHNAS do not have it at all. The tusk size denotes rank and position among the herd. Young and females form herds and Males tend to disperse.
Elephants are the largest living land animals and are highly intelligent. According to WWF reports, Asian elephants grow up to 21 feet long, stand up to 10 feet tall, and weigh up to 11,000 pounds. They have a matriarchal society (Female is the ruler of the herd) and a herd comprises of a nucleus of 2 to 3 mature cows.

TUSKS: A male elephant’s most prized possession is the ivory tusks. The tusks are used in decorative arts, game pieces and musical instruments. Due to habitat loss elephants now enter wet lands and coffee estates resulting in human animal conflict.

BREEEDING: Elephants that are 12-15 years old are sexually active. In the presence of several old bulls, they get a chance to mate only after the age of 25 years. The chances of successful mating increases with the size and age of the bull. The gestation period varies from 20 to 22 months and females will produce a calf every four to five years. An Asian elephant calf is about 260 pounds at birth. The reproductive rate in elephants is rather low. Asian elephants can live to be 60.

Also See:

READ 'EXCLUSIVE ARCHIVES'
Comments on this article
Titia, EFa9uZLgTuesday, December 27, 2016
Super inamtofrive writing keep it up.
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srinivas, BangaloreMonday, January 19, 2015
We have enslaved the rest of the animal creation, and have treated our distant cousins in fur and feathers so badly that beyond doubt, that if they were able to formulate a religion,they would depict the DEVIL in the human form.
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ali, MangaloreSaturday, January 02, 2010
I request with Daijiworld to give more articles on Nature and wildlife studies instead of giving articles on Politicians and other scrap news.
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Pavan, MangaloreFriday, April 10, 2009
I really like these kinds of Articles insted of Political and Religious one. Daijiworld good going.
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Kushalappa, KonankatteSaturday, August 02, 2008
The elephant in the coffee estate looks like a domestic elephant with clean cut tusks like manicured nails .
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Allen Pais, SiddapurTuesday, June 17, 2008
Anand-Jokes apart,I am sure to enter into Joe's Coffee farm,The entry fees will have to be 100 ERO & not USD for a single day's visit,For sure arrangement's can be made as the Singapore Night Safari.Sincerely who ever till date had the opportunity to visit Joe's Coffee farm,will never require to visit Switzerland,Trust me the changes & development I have seen for the past 23 years in Joe's Coffee farm KIREHULLY ESTATE is marvelous,Do you know some thing-Well No coffee Farmer can achieve this for the next 100 years.All the best.
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Dr.Anand & Geeta, SAKLESHPUR-KIREHULLYFriday, June 13, 2008
Gratian and Mala, Your love for nature goes beyond words. We are aware that your tree planting programmee has met with great success. Mankind has to realize that we are far too many people living on this Planet. Too many people, too little space is a recipe for disaster. Your idea of responsible citizens planting at least 10 trees in their lifetime will go a long way in safeguarding the environment.
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Gratian Govias, Chennai / MadrasThursday, June 12, 2008
Dear Geetha and Anand, Your article is wonderful and the insfght into the shrinking habitat is a reminder to all of us that the problem is no longer one for the neighbour to tackle and is ours first and foremost. In my interactions with you, I had mentioned that if each one of us can be responsible for the growth of 10 trees in our life time we would have made a small but successful contribution towards nature. Cheers and keep the wonderful articles going
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Rakesh, SakleshpurThursday, June 12, 2008
I'm a coffee planter I often allow elephants migragratory paths inside my plantation when they move from one range to other.  I have hardly seen distruction that has effected me.so even if there are any kind of distruction we should try not to disturb their life..after all we are occupying their living place. It should always be win win situation in our life live n let live...!
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Augustine Daniel DSouza, Udupi Vasai Virar State of KuwaitTuesday, June 10, 2008
Beautiful photographs of elephants and excellent article by Anand & Geeta.
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nimmoo kinger, mysoreTuesday, June 10, 2008
Dear Anand and Geeta Wonderful article! You have given me a new insight into yet another area of conservation. I didnt know that coffee estates served as migratory corridors for elephants. How v exciting! is there any way one can spend a couple of days on Joe's farm and where is it? Would love to ahve more details. And *Kudos to the most wonderful couple I know!
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Dr.Anand & geeta Pereira, KIREHULLY ESTATETuesday, June 10, 2008
Allen, We are delighted to learn that nature conservation is high on your agenda. Living in harmony with the environment should be the fundamental duty of every citizen. Believe us when we say that every individual, may it be a child, boy, girl, teenager, father or Mother can contribute enormously towards the safeguarding of nature by being conscious to the fact that the wilderness set for the elephants and other wildlife also provides us for sustenance in a number of direct and indirect ways.
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Dr.Anand & Geeta, SAKLESHPUR-KIREHULLY ESTATETuesday, June 10, 2008
Yvonne, You have rightly pointed out that apart from poaching the major threat to elephants is their shrinking habitat. Tropical deforestation and land use change has significantly altered the very life support systems of the elephants. We also need to encompass development with the inclusion of environment within it. Development and environment are not two separate issues but are like two sides of the same coin. No development should be carried out at the cost of environment. Ultimately it is in human hands to keep our forests wild.
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Yvonne, Mangalore / CanadaMonday, June 09, 2008

Great article. The elephant’s population is just 8000 in south India, and being in the evergreen Western Ghats they still cannot feed themselves. It’s really sad, and on top of that poaching is rampant. I know I cannot stay without food & water for 24 hrs, I wonder what if I multiply the hunger pangs to 500 times my size? And sadly an elephant cannot go to the mall and order its food supply - the only alternative we do leave to creatures of the wild, seems to starve to death.

We are supposed to be superior beings, but sometimes when I see the blatant disregard we have to life other than our own, to species other than our own, or an environment other than our own makes me really wonder “how superior we really are?” and what are we really leaving behind for the next generation? To stop poaching, we should stop purchasing Ivory, if there is no demand, there would be no need to kill these innocent creatures for their tusks.

For those interested this is the current World Heritage List : http://whc.unesco.org/en/list Let’s hope the Western Ghat Forest ranges make it to the list. And lastly Excellent job at the Joe’s sustainable farm maybe all NRI’s should look more into spending a few dollars into accumulating annual funds and running some conservation efforts – in our hometown of Mangalore. Progress is necessary but planned progress is what we should be aiming for. Mangalore is beautiful with its spectacular natural beauty – would be a shame to loose it, all in the name of progress.

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ANIL D'SOUZA, MANGALORE/DUBAIMonday, June 09, 2008
Your article is so kool & informative .Please keep writing more of this stuff.You are just great
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Allen Pais, Siddapur(Coorg)Monday, June 09, 2008
Excellent article & gr8 pictures. Both you keep up the excellent work on contribution towards nature & restoration of the environment. I have learned more from you than from any teacher I have ever had ,Geetha & you definitely have a gift for writing convincing articles, which helps the common man understand the need of restoring nature. You have a way of explaining things that is easy for anyone to understand. Not everyone has such a gift. Life becomes a better place to live if all would listen to what ever you say carefully, your explanations are very touching.All of us hear at Malaysia wish you all the success.
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ROMOLA, MANGALOREMonday, June 09, 2008
Wonderful insights you have provided us on human elephant conflict.Mutual respect for these gentle giants is a must
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John Pereira, NJSunday, June 08, 2008
Thank you for the insight on the Asian elephant. Excellent article/photography.
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Amanda Frank, MangaloreSunday, June 08, 2008
Human Elephant conflict was a interesting feature. WE only see the Elephants in movies, in temples or in circus but we hardly know anything about them. Now after reading your article I will be able to enlighten my friends about the Elephant. Best wishes Amanda, Amica, Anita, Ivan
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sudhir, mangalore/muscatSunday, June 08, 2008
nice fotos,liked the previous one as well(snakes-natures most....)!deff. will visit coorg,though it would be after ages n chickmangalore,where else can i find greenery!send in more fotos very soothing to the eyes!way to go Pereiras..
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Ashok Frank, Mangalore / CanadaSunday, June 08, 2008
Great article Anand & geeta. I dont seem to recognise the person wearing the lungi and the cowboy hat.
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payal pereira, mangaloreSunday, June 08, 2008
The elephants look really good including me !. Keep up the good work!.looking forward for more articles
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