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Published: Mon, 5 Dec 2016
Many species face increasing competition with people for space and resources (Pimm et al., 1995; Balmford et al., 2001). As human population gradually increased in recent decades, human-animal conflict problems are getting serious. These problems occur due to the encroachment of human beings on animal habitats for agriculture or poaching activities.
Many forests have been developed into agricultural areas or industrial areas because of economic interests and this has led to many animals lost their habitat. Thus, human-elephant conflict is triggered by habitat loss and fragmentation and the lack of suitable wildlife habitat. Large animals such as rhinoceros, elephants and tigers often bear most of the consequences. In additional of that, animals which lost their habitat would run into agriculture areas or villages for food resources. Crop raiding problems happen due to that fact.
It is difficult to confine elephants to a small place because they move in great distances. Even with fences, farms adjacent to the park boundary are likely to be raided, especially during seasons when favoured foods are at the optimal stage of growth. Elephants leave forests and go into croplands, orchards, farm to feed for food. Hence, they would damage the crops and plantation and also property of farmers or villagers. Moreover, injury or death of people or elephants might be happen.
Although farmers had tried to reduce elephant damage by guarding fields, digging trenches between the forest and fields, and modifying their cropping patterns, it did not reduce the human-elephants conflict. Most of these methods are not efficiency to keep the elephants away from their cultivated fields.
The most serious issues now facing elephants are habitat loss, habitat fragmentation, ivory poaching and persecution as crop raiders (Armbruster & Lande, 1993; Barnes, 1999; FFI, 2002a; Nyhus et al., 2000; Parker & Graham, 1989; Sukumar, 1991). According to Department of Wildlife and National Parks, Peninsula Malaysia, between 1998 and 2006, there were a total of 6,873 cases (764 cases a year on average) of elephant disturbance (Anonymous, 2010).
Despite the ubiquity of human-elephant conflict and the relatively high cost of various elephant control strategies now employed, few studies have analyzed the reasons for their success or failure, or the impact of different protected area boundary and land-use types adjacent to elephant habitat on crop raiding (Seidensticker, 1984; Sukumar, 1989; Newmark et al., 1994; Thouless & Sakwa, 1995; Hill, 1998; Naughton-Treves, 1998).
Therefore this study was undertaken to understand the species about human-elephant conflict and its conservation implications in Perak. Many studies which had been done before in Malaysia are not much specific for elephant and their methods of study mostly are expensive and time consuming ground and aerial surveys. In this study, geographical information system(GIS) will be use to study the factors that lead to human-elephant conflicts and investigate factors that influence elephants’ spatial distribution and home range in Perak.
Definition of human-wildlife conflict
Human-wildlife conflict arises from a range of direct and indirect negative interactions between human and wildlife. These can culminate in potential harm to all involved, and lead to negative human attitudes, with a decrease in human appreciation of wildlife and potentially severe detrimental effects for conservation (De Boer & Baquete, 1998; Nyhus et al., 2000).
Conflict often occurs over access to water and competition for space and food. Economic losses happened due to agriculture destruction or loss of cattle during predation. Conflict situations can arise anywhere, but they are frequently concentrated at the fringes of reserves where wildlife enjoys protection and land is often fertile, leading to a wealth of agriculture (Nelson et al., 2003).
A wide range of species are responsible for conflict, with the principal culprits being primates, rodents, ungulates (including antelope, bushpig, elephant, hippo, buffalo and zebra), lions, leopards and hyaenas (Hill, 2000; Naughton-Treves, 1998; Naughton-Treves et al., 1998; O’Connell-Rodwell et al., 2000; Saj et al., 2001).
Problem statement and significance of study
Shrinking of elephant habitats is one of the reasons that elephants need to go outside forests to search for foods. It causes the Human-Elephant Conflict (HEC). The favorite plantations which elephants always disturb are oil palm and banana. It causes the financial losses for the farmers.
According to Department of Wildlife and National Parks, the highest numbers of human-elephant conflict were recorded in Johor (203 cases per year on average). The seven states which record human-elephant conflict are Kelantan, Johor, Terengganu, Perak, Pahang, Kedah and Negeri Sembilan. Critical areas with elephant disturbance are Kelantan – Jeli, Gua Musang; Perak- Sungai Siput, Hulu Perak; Johor – Kluang, Mersing, Kota Tinggi, Segamat; Pahang – Lipis, Rompin, Pekan, Kuantan; Terengganu – Hulu Terengganu, Dungun, Kemaman; Kedah- Baling, Padang Terap (Department of Wildlife and National Parks, 2010).
Although the farmers had done some preventive measures such as make trenches, watch towers, patrol with tractors, burning tires and logs; it not successful and some methods are illegal. The most effective way is electrical fences. However it needs expensive cost and high maintenance fees. Therefore, it is a big problem to the farmers to prohibit the raiders.
There have few studies about human-elephant conflict in Malaysia so it is necessary to develop strategies to resolve human-elephant conflict and increase public awareness about the importance of conserving wild elephants. As a result, this study can provide data of home range of elephants and map of susceptibility of elephants in crop raiding for future research.
With GIS mapping, we can easily understand HEC problems which happen in Perak. It can also provide us the information of crop raiding susceptibility in Perak and we can determine the spatial patterns of crop raiding by elephants. Furthermore, this study will provide a more predictive explanation of crop raiding to help conservation authorities and local people to reduce human-elephant conflict and promote a better human-elephant relationship.
Referring to the problem statement, some research questions were formulated. They were also outlined in order to clarify the topics under investigation, as well as to guide the flow of this study. The questions are as follows:
- Which areas have highly susceptibility of crop raiding by elephants in Perak?
- What are the different between prediction of crop raiding susceptibility compare with ground data?
The main objective of this study is to use Geographical Information System (GIS) to predict crop raiding susceptibility by elephants in Perak.
The corollary objective is to compare the GIS prediction of crop raiding susceptibility with ground data.
Overall, this thesis consist of five chapters which purposely to assist in understanding and easy to organize though writing process. The chapters in this thesis have been organized as follows:
Chapter 1 introduce about title of this research. Moreover, it also mention about objectives, problem statements and significance of this study.
Chapter 2 discuss about ecology of elephants including its behaviour, diet, and habitat. In this chapter, it also has detailed explanation about human-elephant conflict, damage which brings by elephants to agriculture, method to mitigate this conflict and also conservation actions to protect this animal. Besides, geographical information systems and its importance are generally discussed in this part.
Chapter 3 more focuses on research methodology. For this part, research methodology is based on the geographical information system. It is discussed about the way to obtain data from GIS and ways to analyse data into map.
Chapter 4 is focusing on results and discussion of land use map and crop raiding susceptibility map. GIS prediction of crop raiding susceptibility in Perak with crop ranking table discuss in this chapter. Thus, comparison between GIS data with ground data discuss also discuss in this chapter. Furthermore, it also discuss about the conservation implication of elephants.
Chapter 5 as a last chapter functions as a conclusion to the whole chapter in the thesis. It focuses more on human-elephant conflict including the recommendation of mitigating methods.
The scientific classification of elephant is listed as below (Wikipedia, 2010):
Asian elephant (Elephas maximus) is also known by its subspecies name, Indian elephant. It is the largest living land animal in Asia. This species can be found in India, Indonesia, Vietnam, Thailand, Laos, China, Bhutan, Nepal, Sumatra and also Malaysia. It is consideredendangered, with between 41,410 and 52,345 individuals left in the wild.
This animal is widely domesticated and has been used in forestry in South and Southeast Asia for centuries and also in ceremonial purposes. Historical sources indicate that they were sometimes used during the harvest season primarily for milling. Wild elephants attracttouristmoney to the areas where they can most readily be seen, but damagecrops, and may enter villages to raid gardens.
The Asian Elephant is slightly smaller than itsAfricanrelatives; the easiest way to distinguish the two is that the Asian elephant has smaller ears. The Asian Elephant tends to grow to around 2 to 3.6 metres in height and 3,000-5,000 kilograms in weight.
The Asian Elephant has other differences from its African relatives, including a more arched back than the African, one semi-prehensile “finger” at the tip of its trunk as opposed to two, four nails on each hind foot instead of three, and 19 pairs of ribs instead of 21. Also, unlike the African Elephant, the female Asian Elephant usually lackstusks; if tusks are present, they are barely visible, and only seen when the female opens her mouth. Theenamel platesof themolarsare greater in number and closer together in Asian elephants. Some males may also lack tusks; these individuals are called “makhnas”, and are especially common among the Sri Lankan elephant population. Furthermore, the forehead has two hemispherical bulges, unlike the flat front of the African elephant. Unlike African elephants which rarely use their forefeet for anything other than digging or scraping soil, Asian elephants are more agile at using their feet in conjunction with the trunk for manipulating objects. The Asian elephant also has very thin eyes and a yellow hide in the summer.
Asian elephants generally live in hot climates. Their skin is around 3-4 cm thick. Elephants eat up to 150-170 kg of vegetation a day. The sizes of elephants in the wild have been exaggerated in the past. However, record of elephants may have measured as high as 3.7metres at the shoulder. Height is often estimated using therule of thumbof twice the forefoot circumference (Wikipedia, 2010).
As a mega-herbivore, the Asian elephant consumes more than 110 plant species, while the daily mass of its diet may be as much as 1.5% -1.9% of its body weight in dry weight fodder. Previous studies have suggested that Asian elephants’ feeding preferences may be related to the plants’ palatability, phenophase, texture and protein content. Sukumar (1992) has also suggested that the elephants’ feeding selections were made according to certain nutrient requirements, such as crude protein, calcium and sodium.
Elephants need to eat large quantities of food per day because of their physiology and energy requirements. They are good in browsing and they graze on a variety of plants. Their diet is varying in the proportions of different plant types depend upon the habitat and season. During dry season in southern India, 70% of the elephant’s diet was browse, while in wet season; grasses form about 55% (Sukumar, 1992). However, in an adjacent area, Baskaran (2002) observed that browse make up only 15% of the diet in dry deciduous forest and 47% of the diet in the thorn forest during the dry season, while the annual diet was dominated by grass (84%).
In Sri Lanka, elephants may feed on more than 60 species of plants which belong to 30 families (McKay, 1973). In southern India, Baskaran (2002) observed that elephants fed on 82 species of plants which 59 were woody plant species and 23 were grass species). According to Vancuylenberg (1977), elephants may spend up to 14-19 hours on feeding a day and they can consume up to 150 kg of wet weight. They defecate about 16-18 times per day and produce about 100 kg of dung. Dung can help in disperse germinating seeds.
Asian elephants are often considered to be the flagship species in their habitats, and efforts have been made to conserve them. However, increasing conflicts between humans and elephants occur in many parts of Asia. The elephants come out of their protective habitats, destroy farmland, and even injure people. An understanding of the composition of the diet and the foraging ecology of Asian elephants in may help to develop proper strategies concerning the human-elephant conflict (Chen Jin et al., 2006)
Elephants are found in a wide variety of terrestrial habitats, ranging from deserts (Lindeque & Lindeque 1991), savannahs (Thouless 1995), tropical coastlines (de Boer et al. 2000), and tropical and montane forests (Fay & Agnagna 1991). Their unspecialized diet (Laws et al., 1975) and high mobility (Lindeque & Lindeque 1991) allow elephants to utilize many different habitats and survive under a wide variety of conditions.
Asian elephants are generalists and they appear in grassland, semi-evergreen forest, tropical evergreen forest, dry deciduous forested, moist deciduous forest and dry thorn forest, by way of addition to cultivated and secondary forests and scrublands. Elephants are founded from sea level to over 3,000 m above sea level over this range of habitat types. Choudhury (1999) state that elephants in northeast India and the Eastern Himalaya regularly move up above 3,000 m above sea level in summer.
The Asian elephant consumes a large variety of plant species. Well over 100 different species to be exact. They typically prefer to eat grasses, but also like roots, leaves, vines, shrubs, stems, and bark (Sukumar, 1990). They eat in the mornings, late afternoons, and night. They take breaks from feeding during the hottest parts of the day. On average an adult elephant consumes 330 pounds of vegetation and drinks 140 liters of water a day. However, 55% of what they consume is not digested (Animal Diversity Web, 2005).
Asian elephants use many creative methods to retrieve their food. To eat long grasses they pluck a bundle and stick it inside their mouths using their trunks. Short grasses are eaten by stomping and kicking up the ground, and then grabbing the grass using their trunks. To eat shrubs they break off twigs with their trunks (Animal Diversity Web, 2005).
In Asia, home range sizes reported (males:160-400 km²; females: 40-650 km²) are much lower due to the elephants living in mainly forested habitats with higher rainfall than recorded across many of the African studies sites (Joshua & Johnsingh 1995, Baskaran et al. 1995). Elephants have home ranges over large areas and in excess of 600 km² have been recorded for female elephants in south India (Baskaranet al., 1995). In north India, female home ranges of 184-326 km² and Williams (2002) recorded that home ranges of male are 188-407 km². However, smaller home range sizes, 30-160 km² for females and 53-345 km² for males have been recorded in Sri Lanka (Fernandoet al., 2005).
In Malaysia, They move mostly in secondary forests with an annual home range of about 300 sq km. Elephants are known as an “umbrella species” because their conservation can protect many species to occupy at the same area. They are also known as premier “flagship species” and sometimes they also regarded as a “keystone species” because of their have important impact on our environment and their role as ecological role are significant.
Life span of Asian elephants is around sixty to seventy years. Male elephants reach sexual maturity around ten to fifteen years of age. On the other hand, first pregnancy of females usually happens in fifteen or sixteen years old (Shoshani and Eisenberg, 1982).
Threats to elephants
The major threats to the Asian elephant today are degradation, habitat loss, and fragmentation (Sukumar, 2003; Leimgruberet al., 2003; Hedges, 2006, cited by Choudhury et al., 2008), which are caused by an increasing in human population. These problems are increasing the conflicts between humans and elephants when elephants eat or step over crops. Many people and elephants are killed because these conflicts. The long-term future of elephants should be emphasize in mitigate human-elephant conflicts outside the protected areas, as well as in some protected areas, The largest conservation challenges in Asia today is to reduce human-elephant conflict (Sukumar, 1992, 2003; Hedges, 2006).
Asian elephants live in the various parts of the world with high human population density with growing rate of between 1-3% per year. As a result, elephants need much areas of natural habitat than other terrestrial mammals in Asia; they are one of the species to suffer the consequences of destruction and habitat fragmentation. Due to the fact that elephants are larger in size and they have large food requirements; so they cannot co-exist with people in areas where agriculture is the main form of land. In some cases, elephants have been defined ‘pocketed herds’ in small forest where landscapes are dominated by man. These ‘pocketed herds’ represent an extreme stage in the human-elephant conflict (Olivier, 1978). Besides that, elephants have been caught and taken to Elephant Training Centres where make them lost vigor and lost to the wild population (Hedgeset al., 2005, 2006).
In Asia, poaching is a major threat to elephants too, although reliable estimates of the number of death and the quantities of ivory and other body parts collected and traded are deficient (Sukumaret al., 1998; Milliken, 2005). Poaching activities has been argued that not a major threat to Asian elephant because some males and all females do not have tusks (Dawson and Blackburn, 1991). However, the reality is that elephants are poached for other uses like many kinds of products (including leather and meat) besides to get ivory, and poaching is now recognized as a threat for some Asian elephant populations in the long-term survival (Kemf and Santiapillai, 2000; Menon, 2002). Moreover, in some parts of Asia, poaching of elephants for ivory is a serious problem (Sukumar, 1992; Menonet al., 1997). Large-scale hunting of elephants for ivory, hides, bushmeat, and other products has reduced their populations significantly over a wide area from Myanmar to Indonesia (Menonet al., 1997; Duckworth and Hedges, 1998; Kemf and Santiapillai, 2000; Menon, 2002; Hedgeset al., 2005).
The most important conservation actions for the Asian elephant are to conserve elephant’s habitat and maintain their habitat connectivity by securing corridors; Integrate land use policy into management of human-elephant conflicts that can help local people get some benefits or at least no suffer; better protection to the species through strictly legislation and law enforcement, field patrolling should be improved and enhanced, and trade in ivory and other elephant products must be regulated. Monitoring of conservation interventions is also needed to assess the success or failure of the interventions so that adjustments can be made as necessary (i.e. adaptive management). Reliable estimation of population size and trends will be needed as part of this monitoring and adaptive management approach (Choudhury et al., 2008).
Human-elephant conflict (HEC)
Human-elephant conflict (HEC) may take many forms, from crop raiding and infrastructural damage, though disturbance of normal activities such as travel to work and school, to injury or death of people and elephants (Hoare, 2000). HEC is a problem that poses serious challenges to wildlife managers, local communities and elephants alike.
The issue of HEC has become increasingly significant as human populations have expanded and encroached upon elephant habitat (Dublin et al., 1997; Hoare & du Toit, 1999), particularly where people practice cultivation. Crop raiding is perhaps the most common form of HEC. Although neither the only crop pest nor the most damaging overall, elephants may cause severe localized damage within affected areas and can destroy entire fields of crops (Barnes, Asika & Asamoah-Boateng, 1995; Hillman-Smith et al., 1995; Lahm, 1996; Naughton- Treves, 1998, cited by Sitiati et al., 2003). Moreover, elephants are also dangerous to people. As a result, elephants have a higher profile than other wildlife species and are generally less easily tolerated (Naughton-Treves et al., 2000; Hoare, 2001).
It is vital, therefore, to gain a thorough understanding of the problem in order to develop and direct mitigation strategies. Recent reviews of HEC (Hoare, 1999, 2000) have identified some trends. Conflict usually takes place between dusk and dawn, and for crop raiding in particular is often strongly seasonal. Spatial patterns have been more difficult to identify. Conflict is generally highest in close proximity to protected areas that act as elephant refuges (Barnes, Asika & Asamoah-Boateng, 1995; Bhima, 1998; Parker & Osborne, 2001, cited by Sitati, 2003). However, few systematic studies of HEC distribution have been conducted.
Other pest species, including carnivores (Stahl et al., 2002) and birds (Tourenq et al., 2001; Somers & Morris, 2002), have exhibited considerable spatial predictability in their patterns of crop and livestock raiding, enabling appropriate management and mitigation methods to be applied strategically. The most comprehensive published study of HEC, however, failed to identify any strong spatial correlates (Hoare, 1999). This ‘male behaviour hypothesis’ reflects the fact that male elephants may be more willing to take risks for the higher nutritional rewards of mature crops than female elephants, as has been shown for Asian elephants (Sukumar & Gadgil, 1988; Sukumar, 1989,1991).
The nature of damage caused by elephants to agriculture
Most of the crop damage by elephants is in the form of crop raiding. More or less all elephants indulge on crop raiding whenever they get an opportunity. It is not entirely understood why wild animals raid crops but it is believed they prefer the taste of cultivated plants to that of wild plants. Crops are higher in sugars and lower in fibre and secondary defence chemicals than their wild counter parts. When their preferred diet of grass declines after the rains, they supplement their diets with crops (Joel et al., 2005).
Crop damage also occurs when elephants move from one area to another in search of water or wild food. Degradation of woodlands caused by elephants, fire and over grazing, can cause temporary shortage of food availability for elephants. This may be a factor in motivating them to enter agricultural areas (Joel et al., 2005)
Elephants and other large herbivore attraction to crops is said to increase by changes in water availability, which is relatively scarce in dry seasons. Elephants may indulge in house breaking for various reasons such as searching for food grains, salt or country liquor or to rescue their calves if they have ventured inside a house. In Northern Bengal, most of the housebreaking cases take place in tea gardens. It is also suggested that some desperate solitary elephants may become habitual housebreakers. Cases of elephant killing livestock are not very common but do occur because of clashes at the shared resource points such as watering and salt licks (Joel et al., 2005).
The nature of damage caused by each wild animal varies. For example depredation by elephants is believed to be very large. In North Bengal (India), the number of human causalities in about ten years time from 1986-1995 was 4000. On average 100-200 people are killed in India by elephants annually. An estimated 4000-4500 hecters of agricultural land is destroyed by elephants every year. In addition, approximately 1000-2000 houses are demolished annually. In 1985 at Syamtalira Bayu (Indonesia) elephants reportedly destroyed 270,000 rubber tree seedlings andb140,000 young trees in one plantation. The cost of the damage from three weeks of crop raiding was estimated at US$ 12,000 (Blouch & Simbolon, 1985).
Methods to mitigate human-elephant conflict
The methods of mitigation ranging from simple, traditional methods used by villagers to modern, expensive technologies implemented by state agencies have been described and classified by many previous authors (Nelson et al., 2003; Osborn & Anstey, 2007; de Silva & de Silva, 2007; Fernando et al., 2008, cited by Perera, 2009). A brief overview of the various methods is given below.
- Physical barriers
- Electric fences – expensive and difficult to maintain, some elephants become ‘fence breakers’. Small community type fences enclosing villages and croplands with maintenance by the community can be effective;
- Non-electric fences – need strong material, usually ineffective;
- Live fences – thorny plants (e.g. cactus, agave) and trees planted in a close (sometimes triangular) pattern. Other measures (e.g. electric fence) are needed to prevent damage to the plants until they mature;
- Trenches – problems in maintenance due to erosion during rains and elephants filling them by kicking in the sides.
- Vigilance methods
- Buffer zones – clearing of a five metre wide strip around fields or villages;
- Watch-towers – at strategic points or at half kilometre intervals along intrusion borders, with communication to alert other farmers (e.g. whistles);
- String fences – with metal or glass objects (cans, bottles, bells, etc.) that make a sound;
- Detection and alarm systems using tripwire fences, seismic, optical, laser or infrasound technologies;
- Lights or fires – at strategic entry points.
- Deterrent methods
- Buffer zones of unpalatable crops – e.g. chilli, sesame, tea, tobacco, citrus;
- Making noise (acoustic) – banging on metal, firecrackers, thunder-flashes, fire-arms, cracking whips, trip-wire alarms, recorded sounds (e.g. African honey-bees, elephant distress calls, infrasound);
- Fires and lights – burning chilli or chilli seeds and dung, strong flashing lights, light shining on compact disks hung on string;
- String fences – with application of grease and chilli, hot pepper oil, vinegar or other irritants;
- Nails and spikes – sometimes with poison.
- Repulsion methods
- Use of noise (as above) and irritants – pepper spray (oleo-resin capsicum) and pepper-crackers;
- Elephant Response Units or “Flying Squads” – teams of people with or without captive elephants;
- Causing pain and injury – fire-arms, spears.
- Elephant drives
- To drive herds or individual problem animals to other forest habitats that will hopefully become their new home range; using people, sometimes with trained elephants, vehicles or aircraft.
- Low success rate, due to some elephants breaking back from the driven herd, or to those driven returning to their former habitat.
- Capture, followed by translocation or taming
- Usually done for problem animal control (PAC) involving adult males, which take more risks than breeding herds and therefore become habitual crop raiders.
- Translocation requires a high degree of expertise and logistics, and the animals may return to the original site or create problems in the new location.
- Success with taming depends on the age of the captured animal and expertise of the tamers, and has not been very promising in some situations.
- Culling (killing or lethal control)
- A highly controversial and emotive issue, ethically and culturally unacceptable in most Asian countries.
- Has been used in Africa to control overpopulation and prevent damage to habitats. When employed for PAC, the culled animal may be replaced by another problem animal.
- Compensation schemes
- Can make people more tolerant to damages caused by elephants, but most are often inadequate, highly bureaucratic and open to problems such as fraudulent claims and corruption.
- Land-use planning
- Lack of proper planning has resulted in a marked increase in competition between humans and wildlife for land, feed and water resources and is the root cause of increasing HEC in most countries (Nelson et al. 2003).
- The main factors that bring humans and elephant into situations of increasing confrontation are:
- Expansion of human settlements and agriculture into forest areas;
- Loss of elephant habitats and blocking of traditional migration routes;
- Human activities that attract elephants, such as planting crops in previous elephant habitats, logging in forests resulting in secondary vegetation, and creating water reservoirs for irrigation or power generation.
These confrontations invariably lead to aggressive behaviour in both humans and elephants, thus escalating HEC. Traditional land use patterns such as the slash-and-burn cultivation practiced in some Asian countries have proven to be elephant-friendly, and could be suitably adapted for mitigating HEC in some locations.
Geographical Information Systems
Geographical information systems (GIS) are designed to store, retrieve, manipulate, analyze, and map geographical data. The central element of a GIS is the use of a location referencing system so that data about a specific location can be analyzed in its relationship to other locations. Both plane and global coordinate systems are commonly used. A system may be capable of easily transforming one referencing system to some other referencing system. This makes it possible to take data that has been stored in one form and combine it with data that has been entered and stored in some other form (Church, 2002)
A Geographical Information System is a computerized system for input, storage, management, display
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