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Assessment of spatio-temporal distribution of human-elephant conflicts: a study in Patharia Hills Reserve Forest, Assam, India

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Human–wildlife conflicts (HWCs) are escalating globally because of human population growth and increased per capita demand for and consumption of natural resources. These conflicts may be exacerbated where anthropogenic land uses are encroaching on designated conservation or protected areas. Large mammals, such as the Asian elephant (Elephas maximus), are increasingly victimized in HWCs as movement across large-scale areas places them at odds with land areas used by humans. The number of human–elephant conflicts (HECs) reported in India involving the Indian elephant (E. m. indicus) have also increased. Managers require better information on the pattern and distribution of HECs to mitigate them and conserve elephants. To address this, we studied 1306 HECs reported from 2015 to 2019 in Patharia Hills Reserve Forest, southern Assam, India. We visited these 1306 sites based on our inventory of complaints filed and recorded the village where the incident occurred, the types and extent of damage, the approximate cost of damage and information about elephants. Conflicts peaked at crop maturity. Ninety-five percent of damage reported involved rice crops (644 ha) belonging to 1245 farmers, and 59 incidents involved household and property damaged. The estimated cost of HEC during the study period was 85,688 USD. The average affected cropland size of each farmer was 0.52 ha. Of the identified 23 HEC-affected villages, four villages were mildly affected (10 or  100 incidents). In villages reporting more HECs, long-term management practices, such as community training for on-sight deterrent of elephants, can be adopted to reduce conflicts. In these areas, villagers also reported the damage compensation process implemented by the government was slow. Expediting the compensation process coupled with increased community training and cultivation of deterrent crops may help reduce villagers’ animosity toward elephant conservation.

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    Talukdar, N.R.; Choudhury, P.; Ahmad, F.




    wildlife, human activities, wildlife management, biodiversity conservation, elephants



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