Title – Geo-spatial modeling of walks trails of Asian elephant as a tool for mitigating Human Elephant Conflict in central Nepal
Abstract- This study was accompanied to assess habitat suitability; migratory routes and human elephant interface in eastern part of Parsa Wildlife Reserve (PWR) in Parsa, Bara and Rauthat District. Elephant is the pervasive species causing more than 40% of the conflicts and responsible for 70% of human casualties in Nepal. Human encroachment is a critical issue facing wildlife conservation today. Increasing human population demands a bigger amount of the territory and resources, its expansion typically happens at the expense of wildlife habitat. Observing the evidences above, the main objective of this research is to analyze the suitable areas outside the protected area of PWR, assess the walk trails and assess the human elephant conflict status in Central Nepal. This encroachment leads to species range reductions & extinction of some local species. Remotely sensed imagery of ResourceSat-2 imagery used by applying supervised classification in order to determine land use land cover characteristics of the study area. Image processing and feature extraction was done by Erdas Imagine 2011 and maximum likelihood supervised classification was done. By using presence – only data of Elephant (Elephas maximus) occurrences, 401 observation points alongside several environmental variables which consist Distance from Altitude, Dense Forest, Water, Settlements, Sparse Forest, Sand, Precipitation and Agriculture were developed in to MaxEnt Programme. The Normalised Difference Vegetation Index (NDVI) algorithm designed to estimate the amount of aboveground green vegetation cover from measurements of red and near-infrared reflectance of research site. For calculation this different time series Landsat Satellite imagery was downloaded and used. The contribution of variable “Distance from Agriculture (51.4%)” was highest to impact the model. Similarly other variables like Distance from Water, Settlement, Dense Forest, Barren Land and Altitude also affect in this model. The model performance was accessed through using Receiver Operating Characteristics (ROC) plots and Jackknife tests. The Area under Training data (ROC) curve (RUC) 0.886 and that of Test data ROC curve was 0.789 which is acceptable than the Random Prediction Model (AUC) of 0.5. Habitat suitability and migratory routes identification were done on the basis of habitat suitability model applying threshold ranging from 0 to 1. The suitable sites for elephant habitat should endowed with abundant agricultural land, water, forest and other source so that it can sustainable home for these large bodied mammals. Field study shows that majority HEC incidents were occurred during nights along the forest edges, area having human encroachments and these areas were found heavily impacted due to luring agriculture crop in the farm and stored grain in their hoses near the forest edge. Elephants often deviate from their original route of movement and enter into these hamlets leading to human elephant conflict. The results of model also indicate that, there were also serious impacts on Agricultural land as compared to other environmental variables. During migration elephant used their ancestry routes and these routes were fragmented and they compelled to move through settlement and agriculture as a result elephant interacted with people and HEC takes place. Not only damage to peoples’ property and life but also elephants themselves killed in retaliatory. Based on the results, the recommendations for governmental application of the problem have been developed.
The Centro-Eastern Elephant corridor expedition
This expedition tool place in Nepal in October 2016, during which elephant corridor routes between the two main populations i.e. Central and Eastern; out of four populations of elephant was identified in Nepal. Accompanied by a team comprising a conservation expert, botanist, herpetologist, ornithologist, mammal expert and volunteers, the team spent a grueling 40 days team travelled over 400 kilometer along the route of an identified elephant corridor between Central and Eastern Nepal.
The plan was two-fold: to carry out a series of surveys along the route, where little or no record of biodiversity had previously been carried out and also to study elephant movement patterns, to include an interview / educational program on movement behavior patterns. The reception in the 50 villages was not always welcoming, and in some cases even aggressive. Villagers who had first-hand experience of crop damage or even lost family members during Human Elephant conflicts were hostile towards the concept of elephant protection and indeed conservation in general. However during the expedition the team was able to speak to over 8000 people about elephant movement patterns, and also explain government bylaws and compensation schemes in place for when incidents occur. During this expedition the team collected over 2000 names on a petition which will be presented to authorities with accompanying research data as part of efforts to protect the corridors.
Elephant conservation in Nepal lacks far behind practices in India and Africa; this research to date has shown that the mammals’ natural passage between established colonies – along the movement corridors is hindered by a number of factors but predominantly by human population growth and an associated loss of natural habitat. His on-going research from the expedition seeks to discover whether elephants from each of the established colonies have exclusive genetic material, or whether elephants are still able to travel from colony to colony to mate and therefore prevent inbreeding. The project leader has also spent some time recently in Kenya working on a project to use honey-bees as a eco-deterrent to crop-raiding elephants, and is establishing an elephant conservation research station from where he hopes to recruit and train young conservationist to share his passion for elephant conservation. On a wider level, the other surveys on the expedition were very successful. A healthy population of birds and snakes were discovered, and whilst evidence of mammals was overall limited, the team was excited to discover footprints from the Striped Hyena, an endangered species in Nepal.
Using honey bee as eco-deterrent for crop raiding elephants in Central Nepal
Human elephant conflict (HEC) is an unsolvable issue which disrupts the speed of conservation of elephant. The problem solving issue of Elephant is so fast and easy that human trial mechanical deterrence methods and still fails. In Africa, honeybee fence method has shown positive change among communities and researchers. In Nepal, Human Elephant conflict is a serious problem. So to solve this problem, I used honeybee as bio fence to deter crop raiding in Central Nepal. Out of 30 intrusion attempts, elephants were deterred by 80% i.e. 24 times. The other social statistics were studied to see the perception and status of communities living with giants. Out of total respondents (n=48) only the farm holders with beehive and nearby farmers had following statistics. 50% were illiterate, 25 % were educated up to primary, and 25% were below SLC. 40% of respondents had occupation as agriculturists, while 28% livestock; 32% labor. 52% of respondents used nearby forest as a source of fuel wood, 39% used the forest for fodder collection and 9 % used it as place for animal husbandry. 25 % of respondents used fireball and drum beating as mitigation measure for human elephant conflict mitigation. While 30 % of respondents believed fence wire with no current can be used as elephant deterrence. 58% revealed that HEC trends at current time have decreased. 100% recommended that solar fencing is required to mitigate elephant intrusion.