This project aims to create safe shared spaces for people and elephants, using science based solutions. In West Bengal state, India, human and elephant deaths are alarmingly high at approx. 40 people and six elephants per year. Research suggests, accidental encounters occur at night as people run into elephants, resulting in human casualties and animosity towards elephants. Tragedies can be averted using basic safety practices, Eg: flashlights in the dark to alert elephants of human presence.
Asian elephants are endangered with less than 40,000 remaining on the planet, and approx. 29,000 of them in India. There are 90 million people in W. Bengal, with 700 of them crammed into every SQ. Kilometer. As elephant habitats have been decimated due to reckless land use, the state's 800 odd wild elephants are forced to range outside the National Parks, and share 80% of the land mass with humans. This has intensified conflicts, resulting in approx. 40 human and six elephant deaths per year.
Our research indicates that tragedies occur when people and elephants are startled by each other in the dark. But poor and disadvantaged villagers can't even afford simple safety tools like flashlights, which can help create safer shared spaces between people and elephants, and prevent tragedies. Flashlights, along with education and other basic resources will inspire the villagers to implement austere safety measures and long-term solutions that will foster peaceful coexistence with elephants.
Flashlights are the first step to demonstrating that we care about people and elephants. By providing basic necessities, we can foster compassion for elephants, and create a harmonious coexistence. This is crucial, as conflict is expected to intensify with the burgeoning human population in India, poised to become the most populated country by 2027. Nature Mates, our partner in India, has identified villages around the Gorumara tea plantation landscape for this project.