Patterns, perceptions, and spatial distribution of human-elephant (Elephas maximus) incidents in Nepal

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Raj Kumar Koirala
Weihong JI
Yajna Prasad Timilsina
David Raubenheimer


Nepal has an estimated population of 109 to 142 wild Asian Elephants Elephas maximus L..  We carried out a survey of human-elephant incidents (HEI) of conflict in the buffer zones of Chitwan National Park and Parsa National Park Nepal, using a structured questionnaire, focal interviews, and secondary data collection.  Furthermore, data of HEI were also extracted from published literature in order to analyse spatial-temporal patterns of competition throughout Nepal.  Elephant related incidents were higher in the pre-winter season and concentrated along the southern forest boundary; incidents decreased with increasing distance from the park/reserve.  Crop damage by elephants occurred in pre-monsoon and winter seasons with the most impact on rice (the major crop).  Bulls (single or in pairs) were involved in crop raids (44%), property damage (48%), and human casualties (8%); family herds were only recorded to have raided crops (39%) and damaged properties (36%).  The average herd size recorded was 10 individuals, with a maximum group size of ≤22 elephants.  Generally, incidents per elephant was high in western Nepal, whereas human and elephant casualties were higher in central and eastern regions.  To reduce human–elephant incidents 53% of local residents suggested restoring core and boundary areas with native elephant food plants, 40% suggested planting alternative crops along park boundaries, 6% favoured elephant translocation, and only 1% percent was in favour of culling elephants.  Mitigation measures already in place include wooden watch towers used by villagers to detect elephant incursions.  Low impact traditional averting techniques, such as drumming and the use of flame torches, were used to deter intruding elephants at the areas surveyed.  In conclusion we suggest potential mitigation measures  such as identifying elephant refugia and mitigate the impact and assessing the year-round availability of preferred foods; in addition, we advocate for introducing an equitable compensation to gain support from local communities adjacent to protected areas.

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