Man-animal conflicts are reported from around the world; but the epic battle between man and elephants is particularly a very sad story. The rapid loss of habitat and increasing loss of suitable foraging sites within the degraded forests has been pushing the pachyderms for mass migration from one region to another.
By Saikat Kumar Basu
The consequences have been unfortunate deaths of the gentle giants by coming in contact with live electric wires, unfortunate road and railway accidents, poaching, drowning in big reservoirs or direct clashes with farming communities as they destroy crop fields in their migration routes across elephant habitats in Asia and Africa. The conflicts have also costed lives of unfortunate human victims who got entangled in thus epic man-animal conflict. It is therefore necessary to improve the quality of habitats of wild Asiatic and African elephants, restrict them from moving into human settlements, secure elephant migration corridors and protect them from poachers.
But this simple story depicted above is not so simple as it all a part of highly complex and critical issue that needs our immediate attention. Elephants in both continents were once targeted due to the global ivory trade. However, the global banning of all kinds of ivory products; and the increased awareness among mass about mass slaughters of elephants for ivory has reduced or suppressed this trade successfully. Although the global ivory trade is not completely under control; but the demand of ivory has certainly become lower due to stringent legislation as change in people’s attitude towards procuring ivory from poached elephants. With decreasing demand for ivory in the international illegal wildlife markets operating in parts of China and South East Asia; a paradigm shift is now being observed with respect to exploitation of wild elephant herds across Africa and Asia.
Poachers and illegal wildlife trade traffickers are now targeting elephants for collecting their skin for making jewellery; and different body parts due to high demands in the traditional naturopathic and traditional medicines. Now helpless wild elephants are being shot with high powered rifles and even advanced machine guns to make a bigger harvest. Often the poor animals are poisoned intentionally so that they do not runaway from the boys herd fir collecting the skin. The elephant body parts are being sold in illegal trophy markets as well as the traditional medicine industry at very high prices making profits for all. The leftover elephant meat ate then being sold at local bush meat markets or illegal wildlife markets specializing in wild bush meat for rich customers and high end restaurants serving wild meat. Such evil practices has completely jeopardized conservation efforts of the elephants drastically.
Under these circumstances elephant conservation both in Asia and Africa has hit a wall to high to climb. The investors in illegal wildlife trade and transportation are investing heavily to arm local tribesmen to track and hunt elephants at an industrial scale wiping out vulnerable herds. The rapid and unprecedented decline in wild elephant populations across sensitive elephant habitats in Asia and Africa now needs international attention and support. The time is short and the danger of extinction for wild elephant herds are becoming increasingly higher by the day. It is fine to at immediately on this to save the pachyderms from devastating loss of various sub populations. Exploitation of the gentle giants are causing a great concern for their future.