The Assam Haathi Project is a community-based approach to helping people in Assam (Northeast India) live safely alongside wild elephants. Assam provides one of the last remaining strongholds of the endangered Asian elephant. However, the expansion of agriculture and increasing demand for land rights is fragmenting elephant habitat which is ultimately a serious threat to the survival of elephants. As a consequence, elephants increasingly venture into agricultural areas in search of food, and perhaps in following traditional migration routes. The conflict that ensues is unsustainable both for the survival of elephants and the livelihoods of local communities.
Two conservation organizations, the UK-based Chester Zoo and Assam-based EcoSystems-India are working together to find ways to make the co-existence of elephants and people possible. The Assam Haathi Project (haathi is the Hindi and Assamese word for elephant) focuses on the following approaches to mitigating human-elephant conflict and thereby facilitate the conservation of elephants in Assam:
Community-based elephant conflict mitigation - assisting communities in developing effective, non-harmful elephant damage control measures.
Elephant monitoring and research - following the movements of elephant herds and studying their behaviour, nutritional needs and analyzing patterns using Geographic Information Systems (GIS).
Conservation collaboration - bringing together conservation groups and government agencies working on elephant conservation in Assam, to implement a long-term strategy for habitat protection and land-use planning.
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