Battling the Human-Elephant Conflict in India

Human-elephant conflict is an issue that is not spoken enough about, but it is a serious concern that is increasing at an alarming rate. In India, according to the WWF up to 300 people may be killed annually by human-elephant conflicts. India’s population is growing at a rapid rate, leading to an increased demand in land and natural resources that consequently initiates destruction and deforestation in extended areas. This leaves Asian elephants to battle for space to live freely. As they lose their natural habitat, they are forced to migrate onto lands that are being farmed by local communities, causing a conflict with the farmers who are trying to defend their crops from being destroyed. Such conflicts have caused a tragic amount of deaths of both humans and elephants and as stated by the WWF, Asian elephants are now endangered.

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Figures from Elephant Family, a Non-Profit Organisation, reveal that on average: “100 elephants are killed in India every year as a result of such conflict. A further 40 elephants are accidentally killed on an annual basis by trains or low-hanging power-lines, while 30 may be poached for their ivory.” Fortunately there are charities that are working towards protecting and preserving this species from extinction and Elephant Family funds pioneering solutions to encourage human-elephant co-existence. Ruth Ganesh, principal trustee of Elephant Family, said: “How do we live next door to wild animals without killing each other?” Well, a project the charity is currently working on is to protect ‘elephant corridors’, known as the lands elephants have to travel through when searching for food and water that are currently not safe enough. Furthermore, Elephant Family is working on a project called ‘Helping Dulu’ in partnership with Love Brand & Co which aims to reduce this human-elephant dispute in India, specifically notable in the Karbi foothills, in the north eastern part of the country.  

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Love Brand & Co is a sustainably-orientated clothing and lifestyle brand that was born out of the founder’s love of elephants. Oliver Tomalin, founder, said “it struck a chord” when he realised that asian elephants could be extinct at some point in his lifetime. He said: “In the last 100 years, elephants have decreased by 25% due to urbanisation.” So the brand is looking at ways in which they can play their part in preventing the complete disappearance of this species. They work with hand-selected projects that focus on preserving the environment and wildlife that is close to extinction. The brand donates some of its proceeds to local award-winning conservationist, Binod ‘Dulu’ Bora, who champions the ‘Helping Dulu’ project by leading education sessions with the local people to help mediate the human-elephant tensions. Dulu attends local schools and raises awareness amongst kids from a young age to hopefully inspire the future generations to co-exist harmoniously with elephants. The project also works with the elephants, by providing salt licks for them to eat rather than to feast on crops.  

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The concept behind Love Brand & Co is exceptional, with Tomalin designing a unique motif for each collection that represents each of the conservation projects they support. He explains: “Our conservation projects are enriched by our brand, and likewise our brand is enriched by our purpose in conservation." Since the start, the brand has been committing 5% of company revenue to support these conservation projects around the world including ‘Dulu’ and through dedicating his print ‘trunks for trunks’ to this project he is bringing to the light this human-elephant conflict issue that needs to be tackled. 

Helping Dulu