This dramatic, duisturbing photograph sees local people in Bengal trying to dissuade wild elephants with firecrackers and burning balls of tar. Whilst elephants are highly destructive, dangerous, unpredictable, this type of conflict is unlikely to be productive.
An adult elephant will not be stopped, even by elephant proof fencing. As human land-use encroaches on traditional habitats and pathways of wild animals these conflict increase in frequency. Deterrents such as fencing, chilli ropes have an effect, but also the education of local people on how to respond to elephant encroachment.
A further challenge is to get officials, developers and local people to understand how to reduce the disruption of habitats by building in unsuitable areas.
Conflict causes escalation of consequences, for people, for wildlife or both.
Elsewhere in Assam, efforts by conservationists to give early warning to local crop producers when elephant herds are drawing near allows families and communities to remove crops from fields before the mammals encroach on the agricultural landscape. Whilst this arrangement might not be optimal, it is an example of the type of tolerance and human cooperation which reduces conflict and removes incentives of elephants to visit landscapes which would otherwise be attractive for foraging.
Other challenges occur with big cats, which can easily pass unnoticed in urban landscapes let alone villages and agricultural areas. this means living with a number of challenges discussed elsewhere in this blog.
Further information these images: