Status of conflict mitigation measures in Nilambur, Western Ghats of Kerala, India

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C. K. Rohini
T. Aravindan
K.S. Anoop Das
P. A. Vinayan


Mitigation measures are one of the best strategies for the management of human-elephant conflict.  An assessment of the effectiveness of existing crop protection methods in 17 forest fringe villages of Karulai and Vazhikadavu ranges of Nilambur South and North Forest Divisions was carried out during June 2015 to May 2016.  Mitigation methods found in the study area include electric fences (EF), combined electric fence and trench (EPT+EF), and elephant-proof stone wall (EPSW).  Barriers were surveyed by foot and mapped with the help of global positioning systems (GPS).  Number of elephant crossing points per kilometre along the length of the barrier was highest for EPT+EF and least for EF.  About 86% of the barrier surveyed was located at an average distance of 14.47m from the villages and 13.63% of the barrier located at an average distance of 55.33m from the village.  Damage caused by elephants to EF was primarily due to lack of maintenance of the fences.  In EPT+EF, natural weak spots and gateways created for the passage of people and cattle were the main locations of elephant crossing points.  Damage to the EPSW was caused by elephants by breaking the top portion of the wall.  Areas outside damaged spots primarily contained agricultural land, water bodies and forests, with human habitations being least likely.  Crossing points were located primarily in moderate vegetation zones.  Encouraging local communities to take a primary role in the maintenance of barriers is essential in this context.  Information on the current status of mitigation measures will help to improve the efficiency of barriers and facilitate better management of human-elephant conflicts.

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