Nature Conservation Foundation

Strategic Partnership Grant 2021

Project Name:

Mobile phone technology for human-elephant coexistence in the Anamalais

Project Brief:

Human-elephant conflict is a serious conservation issue for Asian elephant conservation. The inevitable dependency of 70,000 people and 120 elephants over space and resources in the 220 km2 of tea and coffee dominated Valparai plateau in the Anamalai hills, has led to frequent incidents of conflict. NCF’s long-term work in Valparai revealed that lack of prior intimation about elephant locations and their movements through plantations is the primary reason for loss of human lives, which has elicited fear, anger, and trauma among local communities and developed negative attitudes in people towards elephants.

With the involvement of stakeholders, NCF has implemented a simple, unique, and participative mobile–based early warning systems (bulk SMS and voice call alerts, GSM based alert lights) to facilitate people to avoid fatal encounters with elephants. These efforts have been well regarded and encouraged peoples' participation, and helped to bring down human death/injury incidents. However, the occurrence of recent incidents of human deaths warrants strengthening and expansion of technological interventions to minimize conflicts. This technology along with awareness and sensitisation programmes aims to create a win-win situation for elephants and people and enhance human-elephant coexistence in Valparai, thus, acting as a model landscape for other interspersing areas in Asia.

Project objectives:
  • The proposed objectives are based on long-term understanding of human-elephant relationships to promote coexistence between people and elephants in the Valparai region.
  • Monitoring elephant movements and conflict occurrence in the Valparai region.
  • Strengthening and expansion of early warning systems using bulk SMS and voice call services, and installation of mobile-phone operated alert lights, to avoid human-elephant direct encounters.
  • Experimenting with automated announcement systems in public transport to facilitate commuters to know elephant presence areas in advance
  • Outreach through awareness and sensitization programmes for stakeholders