Keywords: Asian elephants, Shivalik Elephant Reserve, man–elephant conflict, environmental conservation, sustainable development, India, sustainability, co–existence, community participation, public perceptions, public attitudes, elephant conservation, land use patterns, traditional grounds, communication gaps, human causalities, crop raiding, anthropogenic activities, forest areas
Does escalating conflict and conservation challenges allow the Asian elephants to co–exist with humans in north India?
The Shivalik Elephant Reserve (c 5405 Km²) appears to be one of India's most important biological area, which holds a healthy population of Asian elephants (±1,346) and sex areas ratio. But during the recent past, man–elephant conflict has escalated drastically in this region primarily due to the increasing movement of elephants in agricultural fields, and attacks. For the last six years, cultivators were found to be hostile towards elephants, protected areas and managers, thereby having a negative impact on conservation–based community participation. The objective of this study was to evaluate the technical reasons behind this conflict. Field data was collected from June 2008 to May 2010, to assess people's perceptions and attitudes in connection to elephant conservation. Drastic changes in the pattern of land use, elephants' attempts to enter their traditional ground, communication gaps, human causalities, an increase in the rate of crop raiding, and anthropogenic activities inside the forest areas were found to be issues behind this conflict.