The primary goal of this course to introduce UW students to India’s environmental policies pertaining to conservation and development. Through lectures, discussions and individual research, students will gain insights about how these policies were developed, put in place, and their outcomes.

This blog site highlights student accomplishments and travel experiences to India.

Monday, October 12, 2015

The human-elephant conflict that is changing India and the research that shaped our summer

Anne Nicole Reed
August 2015 trip to Coimbatore, India

This summer I had the opportunity to travel to India to learn about the human-elephant conflict. This trip was a follow up to the spring ENR policy course in which we studied policy related decisions in Southern India. After looking at many subjects Alanna Elder, Dalton Nelson, and I chose to work on the ongoing human-elephant conflict. The papers we wrote on this subject were the beginning stages of our research in India. We focused our efforts in Southern India along the Western Ghats mountain range.

This trip was an eye opening experience, I not only was fortunate enough to learn about the elephant issues in this region and what they are doing to remedy this, but I also learned about their culture which I think is a large aspect to solving any human wildlife conflicts.

In Southern India there are many conflicts that occur between the wildlife and humans, however, one of the largest that has been escalated since the 1980s is the human-elephant conflict.

Although there has continually been conflict between the two, in the 1980s began large-scale human expansion into the elephant habitat.

The crop damage or crop loss has been substantial on a local level which is the true source of frustration for the farmers. Both elephants and humans have lost their lives in this conflict.

While in India we visited with many farmers and locals to better understand the situation from this aspect but we also visited with forestry officials and scientists to also receive it from an official stand point.
Gaining a better understanding of the problem:
one perspective at-a-time. Farmers describe
how elephants destroy their crops.

By speaking with many different people it was easy to see how split people are on this subject and why it can be difficult to find long standing solutions.

While I enjoyed learning from the many people we met I believe my favorite aspect to this trip was getting to know the locals and being able to have in depth conversations with them because this adds another layer to the research that you would otherwise not have if just basing the research on literature.

I am thankful for this opportunity and plan to travel to this area again if given the opportunity.

Alanna Elder and Nicole Reed (right) observe the elephants in their feeding camp.

I believe this trip was well worth the effort and I look forward to furthering my studies with Dr. Sivanpillai through working with the Konganadu College of Arts and Science on the elephant crop destruction. This study not only has helped me on an educational level but a personal level as well. 

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