Whatever can be done, should be done, to improve the safety of humans living in the area where elephants consider home, by reducing the likelihood of encounters. This will in turn ensure the safety of elephants as well as the humans. Thanks to the Guardian for this news:
Dr Ananda Kumar wins one of seven ‘Green Oscars’ for his system of reducing human-elephant conflict by tracking and texting elephants’ locations to people
On the Valparai plateau in southern India people live in fear of unexpected encounters with giants in the dark.
As dusk settles, tea and coffee pickers collect rations from the townships run by the corporations that own the plantations and drift back towards their colonies. Buses drop workers on the roads and they make the precarious walk through the dark to their homes.
“They are scared. If I am there I am really scared,” said conservationist Dr Ananda Kumar, who created an SMS warning system to help workers live safely among elephants. On Wednesday at a ceremony in London, his work won a £35,000 Whitley Award, dubbed a ‘Green Oscar’.
“That’s where the accidental encounters occurred. Most of the incidents. It’s very difficult to make out elephants in the dark. It’s a huge animal and looks like a rock and will be standing very still when they notice people.”
On the Valparai, high in India’s Western Ghats, tea and coffee companies have flattened 221 sq km of prime rainforest for their plantations. The cleared land is now home to 70,000 workers, who live surrounded on all sides by the rugged, deeply forested Anamalai (Tamil for ‘elephant hills’).
But the 2,000 elephants who inhabit those hills don’t recognise the multinational companies’ claim to the plateau. Every year around 100 elephants use the plantations as a pathway to get to other parts of the rainforest.
“Elephants are strongly related to their ranges, this is scientifically established. It’s a part of their home, which is lost to plantations because of historical exploitation,” said Kumar, who has spent a decade working on a system of text messages, television alerts and warning lights that keep track of elephants as the move through the plantations.
The programme won the Whitley award for its novel and pragmatic approach to the elephant-human conflict, which kills 400 people and more than 100 elephants across India every year…
Read the whole article here.