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Human-Elephant Conflict In SE Asian Elephant Conference

Human-Elephant Conflict To Feature In Southeast Asian Elephant Conference At UC

March 21, 2013

The heightening conflict between people and elephants will be a feature in many of the talks at the south and southeast Asian elephant symposium at the University of Canterbury (UC) in May.

Conference organiser, UC anthropology lecturer Dr Piers Locke, said the human-elephant conflict in Southeast Asia was becoming critical due to loss of habitat.

``Humans and elephants have a long history living alongside each other. Hindu and Buddhist religious traditions accord the elephant a sacred status and humans have been taming, training and riding elephants for millennia.

``For wild elephants, conflicts with humans due to habitat loss and population pressure are an acute problem, often resulting in mortality for both people and elephants.

``The loss of traditional forms of employment, particularly in logging, has resulted in welfare problems not just for elephants, but also for their handlers. Both of these issues present a challenge for how the two species can share space and live together,’’ Dr Locke said.

Key note speaker will be Professor Raman Sukumar of the Indian Institute of Science, recognised as one of the world's foremost authorities on elephant ecology. Erin Ivory, a zoo elephant specialist is also among the speakers.

Anthropologists, ecologists, geographers, political scientists, historians, Sanskritists and zoologists from the United Kingdom, the United States, France, India, Sri Lanka, Australia and New Zealand will attend the conference on May 7 and 8.

Many participants are the most senior, world-renowned experts in their respective fields.

Dr Locke will outline his ethno-elephantology research he is developing at UC along with two research students.

Asia’s elephant population has experienced a 90 percent decline in the past 100 years and a rough calculation suggests that as much as 95 percent of the original habitat has been lost over the same period. As few as 25,000 Asian elephants remain in the wild, scattered among 13 countries.


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Photo: Dr Piers Locke on an elephant in Nepal.

ENDS

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