Our vision involves a large, humanely managed population of wild elephants. This involves adequate resources and habitat across the elephant range alongside human communities. In pursuit of this vision, WWF-India regularly conducts research and implements conservation interventions centred around four landscapes – Brahmaputra, Western Ghats, Nilgiris, Terai Arc and Central India.
ResearchOur research is centred on the issue of human-elephant conflict—what causes it and the solutions to it.
Some of our key research initiatives-
- Psychosocial orientations toward elephants
Why are some people and communities more willing to absorb the costs of living alongside elephants than others, and how can we measure this forbearance?
- What explains changes in levels of human-elephant conflict?
Human deaths due to conflict have increased by 25% in the last decade. What is driving these large-scale changes, and what can be done to address them.
- Have our interventions worked? Why or why not?
WWF-India has pioneered anti-depredation squads and low-cost non-lethal fences to reduce conflict. We take a multi-disciplinary approach to assessing how well they address conflict.
- Restoring habitat post lantana removal
The invasive species Lantana camara covers 60% of elephant habitat in parts of South India, crowding out edible species and leaving less habitat for India’s native fauna. We are working with specialist partners to run experiments to ensure that when lantana is removed, it’s replaced with native vegetation instead of more invasive.
- Where exactly are elephants going?
WWF-India was the first to successfully collar a wild elephant in Assam, and when we work towards collaring more often, it will help reveal critical habitats and corridors that we can help protect.
Conservation Actions- Implementing best practices in managing human-elephant conflict:
HEC is very complicated, but the first step is to ensure that officials facing conflict can implement best practices. The second step is to provide information collected during conflict management that helps improve efforts in the future. In partnership with Project Elephant and the Ministry of Environment, Forest, and Climate Change, WWF- India has produced a Field Manual for Managing Human-Elephant Conflict that helps with these steps. We are now working with partners to implement the manual.
- Human-elephant conflict hotspot management plans:
we are identifying places with disproportionate levels of conflict and trying to develop model HEC management plans to help authorities address their hyper-local causes
- Preventing train-elephant collisions:
After electrocutions, collisions with trains are the leading cause of human-caused death for elephants. We are engaging directly with the Forest and Railway Departments to develop practical, affordable, site-specific solutions for these accidents to cause minimum disruption to trade and movement.
- Reforming the ex-gratia/compensation system:
Sometimes, HEC can’t be stopped—it can only be compensated. The people who live alongside wild elephants and at times lose crops, property, or even loved ones to elephants deserve the full support of society. We aim to help the government improve compensation systems to ensure they are more fair and efficient while preventing fraud.
- Protecting elephant corridors and elephant reserves:
Whether it is the Kallar corridor in Tamil Nadu or Shivalik Elephant Reserve in Uttarakhand, WWF-India engages with decision makers across sectors and agencies to try to help minimise further development of elephant habitat or corridors.