by Dr. Pashupati Chaudhary
In simple terms, conflict is a misunderstanding between the two groups. It is the havoc situation which makes the relationship hostile in any context, whether it is between two people, or between two groups or between two countries or between human and elephant. Conflict may arise due to several reasons. It may be due to misunderstanding of the views, ideas, competition for the same natural resources, and misuse of the resources. But this human-elephant conflict is also not surprising to hear and accept. It is the real picture which is frequently occurring in the South-east Asian region.

Dr. Pashupati Chaudhary

The conflict between people and elephants which results from the destruction of crops and property damage, injury and killing of humans is a serious conservation issue in parts of South-east Asia. The conflict between elephants and people occurs at a varying extent through the elephant range. In the present scenario, elephants are likely to clash with human interest in many places. Depredation of crops such as(rice, wheat, maize, oil, palm, rubber, cereals, millets, and sugarcane) cost millions of rupees every year and man’s slaughter by elephants and vice versa is a serious problem. Its consequences are unimaginable that may lead to the extinction of such giant species. The Asian elephant is an endangered species and human-elephant conflict poses a grave threat to their continued existence. People will accept elephants only if its impact on human interest can be minimized.

According to the journal of (Kamal dev Bhattarai and Sujata Karki)published on March 3rd 2020, the country’s protected area has grown by more than 30 times in between 1973 and 2010 which is good news and has made a progress in wildlife conservation but in case of an elephant, the situation differs.

The elephant killed a man and retaliatory killings are often heard in the news. According to online news, 18 people were killed & 27 cases of wild elephants attack on humans in 2016 alone and 2 elephants were killed by villagers in retaliation. Online news covered wild elephants straying from Shuklaphanta National park were wreaking havoc in adjacent villages. In this incident, a herd of tuskers entered the settlement of pipaladi in Shuklaphanta municipality-3 and destroyed houses of local and ripen wheat crops on around 31 bighas of farmland and the estimated loss was 1.5 million. Online news of Dec 15, 2020, covered a man killed after being attacked by a wild elephant in Nirmalbasti VDC IN Parsa district.

It is frequently heard that the elephant has come out in the Charkoshe jhadi of Dharan and disturbed all the vehicles passing along the road. Sometimes it comes as the breaking news that the elephant has damaged crops, houses and killed people in Triyuga, Udaypur. Sometimes the instances of an elephant escaping the national reserve area and straying through the fringe areas of Chitwan National park has been heard and it had become a threat for the surrounding area people& residents. The most recent event we heard in news was that the people were killed by an elephant in hanumannagar of Saptari district. Likewise, many more such events are heard throughout the Terai region of the country from the past.

It is happening every year. Due to human-elephant conflict, severe damages are occurring in crops, paddy fields and even fatalities of human life. So this issue should not be undermined.

It is a serious matter of concern which everyone should be aware, to protect the dwindling population of elephant and save the precious lives of human. The conservation of wild elephants depends on the resolution of elephant-human conflict. The conservation of elephant flagship species of global significance provides tremendous opportunities for simultaneously conserving biodiversity and increasing benefits to local communities. The full range of such benefits is extensive and includes improved access to natural capital, improved livelihood opportunities, improvements to social capital, greater food security and reduced vulnerability to ecosystem degradation. Owing to their role as keystone and umbrella species that help maintain the biodiversity of the ecosystem, the contribution of elephants to achieving overarching global biodiversity conservation is immense. The cultural and aesthetic values of elephants are also important.

The main reason behind this conflict in Nepal especially in the Terai region is massive deforestation, rapid encroachment and degradation, population growth and fragmentation, and loss of the elephant habitat. As elephant range becomes more and more fragmented and as elephants get confined into smaller pockets of suitable habitat, human and elephants are increasingly coming into contact and in conflict with each other and forcing elephant population to migrate long distances and paving a way to conflict

The people exploited the elephant habitat for various reasons such as settlement, farming crops, domestication and various other uses. Thus due to lack of foodstuffs in the forest area or in their habitat, elephants also impact negatively on local communities or fringe area people in many ways e.g. raiding crops, killing domesticated livestock, destroying water supplies, demolishing grain stores and houses, injuring and even killing people. crop raiding is the major cause of conflict.

Cost of such conflict has been significant. The real and perceived costs of human-elephant conflict greatly outweigh the potential benefits and subsequently, elephants are increasingly being excluded from many parts of their range. Once the elephants are gone, however, the local communities will have lost a valuable asset, while at the same time contributing to the loss of biodiversity and overall degradation of the ecosystems on which they depend for their livelihoods.

The government is still lacking behind to reduce human-elephant conflict due to insufficient financial resources up to date. Compensation for damages and casualties is insufficient. So, the government of the country should seek a different strategy for the conservation of wildlife such as elephant and save human lives as well. Conservation and development programs need to be integrated in such a manner as to reduce conflict. Sufficient budget resources should be allocated for human-elephant conflict. sufficient financial resources should be allocated for building Infrastructures such as fencing. This can only be brought by policymakers of the highest levels.

Elephant conservation should not be viewed as a preoccupation with a single species. It should be considered practical meaning to enhance the country for the overall conservation program because elephants can only be conserved by ensuring the integrity of their forest habitat with all other species found there. Existing laws to conserve elephants and their habitats need to be fully enforced and they should be supplemented wherever necessary to ensure the fullest protection. priority has to be given to elephant requirements, control logging can contribute to making good habitat for elephants and secondary vegetation provides excellent food resources. Maintenance of migratory corridors will minimize the conflict between the elephant and the people. International cooperation is required where migration route cross frontiers & borders.

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