For his extraordinary work on mitigating human-elephant conflict in the Valparai plateau, Ananda has been awarded the prestigious Green Oscar at a ceremony in London last month.
Since 2002, Ananda has been studying elephants in the plateau where large expanses of rainforest have been flattened by tea and coffee plantations. Home to 75,000 workers, Valparai is also inhabited by 100 elephants who use the plantations as a pathway to get to other parts of the Anamalai rainforest.
Elephants have to pass through tea and coffee plantations to get to other parts of the Anamalai rainforest
To increase people’s tolerance of elephants and reduce unexpected encounters in the dark, Ananda’s early warning system called the ‘Elephant Information Network’ ensures that text alerts are sent to people who reside within a few kilometres from where an elephant is spotted. Elephant locations are also broadcast on local TV stations in the evenings, and red warning indicators placed in strategic locations on the plateau light up via SMS.
The warning system has reduced the average number of human deaths due to surprise encounters with elephants from three to one in the past decade. Incidents of elephants damaging property have also reduced by half, now that locals are better informed about their locations.
To know more about Ananda’s work on human-elephant coexistence, watch this lovely short film: