Using Education and Awareness as a Tool to Promote Elephant Conservation and Reduce Negative Interactions in a Biodiversity Hotspot

Northern Bengal landscape of forests patches and tea estates is a critical transboundary movement route for elephants in north-eastern India. That landscape ensures connectivity of elephant populations between Bhutan, Nepal and Assam. However, its fragmented nature and limited community knowledge of elephant behavior and safety precautions has led to 50 human deaths and as many injuries per year for more than a decade due to human-elephant conflict. Long term research on elephant ecology and the nature of these incidents indicates that these encounters are mostly accidental and may therefore be reduced if proper precautions are observed. Through workshops and awareness sessions this project educates local tea-garden workers on safety precautions near elephants to ensure a reduction in human casualties. This project will directly benefit more than more than 100,000 people and also ensure sustainable conservation support for the endangered elephants outside protected areas.