Graduate Research and Discovery Symposium (GRADS)

Title

Walking with Giants: Mitigating human-elephant conflict in Myanmar

Document Type

Poster

Publication Date

Spring 2015

Abstract

Myanmar has experienced dramatic declines in its wild elephant populations over the last seven decades, dropping from as many as 10,000 wild elephants to as few as 2,000 today. The main reasons for this loss is the live capture of wild elephants for use in logging operations, and significant habitat loss and the ensuing human-elephant conflict. We are investigating the causes for human-elephant conflict (HEC) and possible mitigation methods in rural areas outside of the former capital city Yangon. We have conducted over 300 interview surveys with village residents to determine the levels and types of HEC experienced and conservation attitudes towards the wild elephant population. We have also captured and attached satellite-GPS collars to four wild male elephants to monitor their movements and behavior before, during, and after HEC. The results from our initial interview surveys demonstrate that most households experience HEC, with 38% of farmers losing over half their crops annually to elephant crop raiding. However, a majority of the interviewees favored elephant conservation (88%). We will use these results to work with the Myanmar government to focus HEC management strategies and provide recommendations to combat HEC as the development of Myanmar continues to progress.

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