Nishant M. Srinivasaiah

Stories from Nishant M. Srinivasaiah

Saturday, September 1st, 2012

The world's largest population of the endangered Asian elephant Elephas maximus occurs in one of the world's most densely populated and poorest regions, India. The ever-increasing human population exerts tremendous pressure on the natural resources including the forests in which these giants live. Increasingly, the competition for land and food has driven the two mega-vegetarians into conflict. Human-elephant conflict (HEC) is fast emerging as the greatest threat to the conservation of our 'National Heritage Animal' in the 21st century, far greater than poaching.

Although the elephant is one of the most well known, loved and revered animals in this country, we are still grappling to address many an important issue related to its conservation, including HEC. We lack rigorous scientific studies into the behaviour of these highly social animals, and thus we are unable how to predict how they might engage with their habitat - and with us. Do they always just 'follow the herd' - or do these long-lived, intelligent animals make individual decisions? Knowing the answers to these questions is fundamental to informed management.

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