Asian elephant expert Ajay A. Desai will speak on ‘the human-elephant conflict in Karnataka’ at the monthly interactive conservation education programme, ‘Conservation Speak’, at Mysore zoo on January 8.

Mr. Desai is currently co-chair of the IUCN Asian Elephant Specialist Group and a member of the Steering Committee of Project Elephant of the Ministry of Environment and Forests. He is also a member of a task force set up by the Karnataka High Court to advise on the conservation of elephants and management of the human-elephant conflict, a release said.

After working on ecology and the behaviour of elephants in Karnataka between 1980–90, Mr. Desai focussed on mitigating the human-elephant conflict and assisting the State Forest Department.

As per the 2010 census of elephant population, there are about 5,500 to 6,000 elephants in the forests of Karnataka, which amounts to 25 per cent of India’s total estimated elephant population. Due to the fragmentation of their habitats, changes in land-use patterns and the blockage of elephant corridors, a severe man-elephant conflict has been reported in the Mysore region, comprising the districts of Mysore, Kodagu, Hassan, and Chamarajanagar, and in Ramnagaram and Bangalore Rural districts, the release said.

Apart from crop and property damage, there were several human deaths reported each year. As per the available figures from the office of the Chief Conservator of Forests, Project Elephant, Mysore, 34 persons were killed during 2010–11. The number came down to 14 during 2011–12. It was reported that as of December 31 last year, 17 persons had been killed by elephants in the State.

Those interested should contact the zoo office through email (zoomysore or telephone (0821-2520302/2440752) on or before January 6.