ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Seeing the Elephant in the Room: Human-Elephant Conflict and the ETF Report

The report of the Elephant Task Force acknowledges the gravity of human-elephant conflicts, and makes a set of potentially far-reaching and forward-looking suggestions to alleviate them. The spirit of most of them is admirable and positive, but the devil, as always, is in the implementation. Managing conflict is as much about protecting farmers and farmlands from elephants as it is about reducing our footprint on the elephant's domain. The first of five articles that discuss the Elephant Task Force report.

Blame the Forest Management System

The Elephant Task Force's report draws attention to the basic difference between tigers and elephants in that the latter do not operate in bounded territories. However, India's forest management system, inherited from the British, is still based on the premise that forests cover a specific territory that have to be governed in a repressive fashion for the extraction of profit. The plight of elephants is only a small part of the larger social and economic conflicts and issues this has thrown up. Unless there is true social and democratic land use planning in the country, there is little hope of the task force's many recommendations achieving anything substantial.

Did the Task Force Get It Right?

The Elephant Task Force's report makes a number of sensible recommendations and the body has by and large done a commendable job in the short time it had. That said, there are some serious omissions, which ought to be remedied before the proposed statutory agency called the National Elephant Conservation Authority with a governing council that includes representatives from various disciplines is set up. In addition, the report sets out a vision for India to become a global leader in elephant conservation. Though a laudable aim, this would require much better preparation and performance by the country's delegations in international forums.

An Elephantine Task

An assessment of the task force report, both in terms of the value of its recommendations and implementability and a comparison with the implementation of the Tiger Task Force recommendations of 2005.

Gajah and Praja: Conservation, Control and Conflicts

The adivasi people living near the Orissa-Andhra Pradesh border face the challenge of having to live with elephants which, according to the Elephant Task Force, have been "displaced" because their home ranges and habitats in the Lakhari Valley Wildlife Sanctuary have been severely degraded. These pachyderms are liable to cause serious human-elephant conflicts in the new areas they move to. Though the task force's prescriptions to mitigate conflicts pay lip service to involving local communities in conservation, in essence they lean towards displacing the adivasis who have lived in the forests for centuries and now have the legal right to do so.
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