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Relocating elephants fails to decrease human-wildlife conflict
Date:12/12/2012

Humanelephant conflict in Sri Lanka kills more than 70 humans and 200 Asian elephants every year. One of the most common tools in combating these conflicts is moving the elephants into ranges away from humans, often into national parks. This is done in hopes of avoiding problems that include elephants raiding crops, breaking into homes and injuring or killing people.

But according to a new study to be published Dec. 7 in PLOS ONE by the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute, the Centre for Conservation and Research in Sri Lanka and the Department of Wildlife Conservation Sri Lanka, moving problem elephants can actually lead to more conflict and more deaths of both humans and elephants.

"What happened with some of the translocated elephants was quite unexpected," said the paper's lead author Prithiviraj Fernando, a Smithsonian research associate and chairman of CCR. "Most of these elephants didn't stay put; they left the relocation area and ventured back into agricultural lands, causing problems."

Using remote-download GPS collars, the researchers monitored 12 translocated, adult male elephants and compared their movement and propensity for conflict with 12 males left in their normal home ranges. Before the study, all of the translocated elephants and 10 of the elephants left in their home ranges were considered problem elephants.

Two of the translocated elephants were killed within the national parks where they were released, and the rest of the elephants left the parks within one to 260 days. Some of the elephants moved back toward their capture site, others wandered over large distances and a few settled close to the park where they were released. But nearly all of the translocated elephants were involved in human-elephant conflict after their release, killing five people over the time of the study. Five of the elephants also died within eight months of release. The elephants left in their original home rang
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Contact: Lindsay Renick Mayer
renickmayerl@si.edu
202-633-3081
Smithsonian
Source:Eurekalert

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