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Human-Elephant Conflict in Kerala



  Feb 20, 2024

Human-Elephant Conflict in Kerala



What has led to the increasing cases of human-elephant conflict in Kerala?

The escalation in human-elephant conflict in Kerala is attributed to various factors, including habitat fragmentation and shrinking due to developmental activities, the encroachment of forest areas for agricultural and other uses, and the inadequate effectiveness of barriers like trenches and impediments to prevent entry of elephants into human settlements.

What are the recent incidents of human-elephant conflict in Kerala?

Recently, there have been reports of elephant attacks resulting in human fatalities. For instance, in Wayanad district, there were two deaths in February, and 57 people in Kerala have lost their lives in elephant attacks alone, as per data shared in the last year.

What measures have been taken to prevent these conflicts?

The Kerala Forests and Wildlife Department has mostly relied on erecting barriers and impediments to prevent the entry of animals into farmlands and residential areas. Measures like elephant-proof trenches and solar-powered fencing, borrowed from Africa, have also been deployed.

Why are the current preventive measures failing?

Traditional strategies like trenches and barriers are becoming less effective as animals get used to the deterrents or find ways around them. Furthermore, the reliance on wind direction for deterrents like pepper sprays makes their effectiveness sporadic.

What statistics reflect the severity of the conflict?

The total human deaths due to elephant attacks in Kerala from 2019-2020 to 2022-2023 stand at 555, with significant damage to crops and compensation paid to the victims, indicating the severity and economic impact of these conflicts.

Are there any legal or policy measures being considered to address these conflicts?

The Kerala Assembly has passed a resolution asking the Centre to simplify laws to allow it to declare more effectively the wild elephant as ‘vermin’. This would provide a legal route to mitigate the conflicts through more decisive action, such as culling when necessary.

How are the conflicts affecting local communities and conservation efforts?

Local communities face the threat of property damage, injury, and loss of life, which in turn affects their livelihood and well-being. Conservation efforts are challenged by the need to balance human safety with the protection of these endangered animals.


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