Project Description

The Mahasamund area of Chhattisgarh is currently in the throes of human-elephant conflict ever since a herd of 19 wild elephants moved into the region after they were possibly displaced from the shrinking forests of Orissa or Jharkhand. Regular instances of crop-raiding and destruction of human habitations are the reason for the escalation of conflict. When the Chhattisgarh Forest Department took the initiative to minimize the rapidly growing Human Elephant Conflict (HEC), Wildlife SOS came up with a unique plan to use radio-collars on the wild elephant herd so as to issue timely alerts to the villages, by effectively tracking the elephants’ movements.

The radio-collaring programme has been successful to raise awareness and involve local communities as stakeholders to effectively mitigate human-elephant conflicts. The radio-collar tracks the location of the matriarch of the herd so that there is an idea of whether or not she is approaching human settlement areas. Predicting the matriarch’s location helps in assessing her possible route, which helps in reaching out to local community representatives to raise alerts in the village. This has led to the mitigation of conflicts in such areas which are prone to human-elephant interaction. Interactive discussions on biology, behaviour and ecology of wild elephants and the safety measures that can be adopted to avoid conflicts was conducted in this session. These sessions also educate the villagers about why conflict occurs, elephant behaviour, essential conflict mitigation strategies, and the importance of Early Warning Systems (EWS). In fact, through these sessions, These volunteers actively help in alerting the villages when the elephants are nearby, thereby making communication during the time of distress more efficient and reliable.

Objective: To mitigate human-elephant conflict in Chhattisgarh that has been the cause of destruction of human habitation and crop-raiding as well as human fatalities by radio-collaring the matriarch of the conflict herd as well as a male conflict elephant.

Scope: To expand the radio collaring to the female of another new herd that has 17 elephants that has entered the state of Chhattisgarh which is also the cause of conflict in the Balodabazar region 

Location/Region: Mahasamund and Balodabazar region of Chhattisgarh

Milestones:

  • Radio-collaring the matriarch in 2018; 2 attempts to radio-collar the solitary bull elephant did not succeed as he was in musth once and could not be tracked after darting
  • 94 people across eight villages have signed up as volunteers to be trained for Haathi Mitra Dal (Friends of Elephants Group).

Timeline:

  • 2017 Launch of the Wild Elephant Project, Chhattisgarh
  • 2018 – Radio-collaring of the matriarch (ME4)

Other Collaborating Groups: Chhattisgarh Forest Department

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