Rapidly expanding human populations, increasing levels of human consumption and the technologically enabled incursion of human activities into areas previously remote or uninhabited by people is causing the depletion and fragmentation of traditional elephant habitat, conflict and loss of life.
We must minimise the causes of conflict and promote the peaceful co-existence of people and elephants to ensure the survival of elephants and reduce suffering. Good governance in elephant range states is essential to success in this endeavor.
- The conflict between elephants and people has two sides; humans face senseless suffering, loss of life and property and elephants suffer injuries and mortalities which impact the fabric of their societies. Promoting co-existence requires understanding the needs and perspectives of both people and elephants.
- The root causes of the conflict are poor land use, driven by increasing human populations and unsustainable consumption of natural resources, resulting in fragmentation of habitat, as well as the cultivation of crops attractive to elephants adjacent to their natural habitats.
- The management of conflict between elephants and people has tended to focus on mitigating its symptoms, through barriers, deterrents and early warning systems, rather than eliminating or managing its ultimate causes.
- The development and implementation of sensible land use planning that takes account of the collective needs of people and elephants is essential to reducing and preempting long-term conflict and promoting peaceful co-existence. Some forms of land-use are less compatible with the presence of elephants than others. In some areas elephants may have to be removed, in other areas people may have to be moved.
- Continued destruction of forests, haphazard settlement and construction of roads and railways in elephant habitat, and the indiscriminant use and depletion of natural water sources is fragmenting elephant range further and leading to increased conflict.