Efficacy of different human-elephant conflict prevention and mitigation techniques practiced in West Bengal, India
Human-elephant conflicts (HEC) have become an ever-increasing threat to wildlife management in recent years around the world. In India, West Bengal has been one of the worst sufferers of these conflicts. With 2.89 % of the entire elephant population in India, the state records a high mortality rate, both human and pachyderm every year. Although several mitigation techniques, traditional as well as modern, have been used for many years, however, the conflict cases have not shown any steady decline. It seems that the measures practiced in the region focus on short-term alleviation rather than a long-lasting solution ensuring peaceful coexistence of the two species. The study discusses the mitigation and preventive measures of human-elephant conflicts practiced in the state, their efficacy and shortcomings. The study revealed a single “universal model” is not successful to mitigate the concerns; rather a combination of measures is required. An amalgamation of traditional and modern techniques is also suggested. An efficacious operative mitigation plan should be site-specific and based on several local factors including conflict, physiographical, habitat, anthropogenic and other such variables. Thus, a hypothetical model for designing an effective mitigation strategy has been proposed for future researchers and competent authorities to look into. This could be helpful for policy makers to plan effective management practices not only in the region but also elsewhere.
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