Data from the latest elephant census report released by the Karnataka Government on August 9 must have been music to the ears of jumbo lovers. As per the report, the number of wild elephants in Karnataka has gone up to 6,395 from 6,049 in 2017.
However, the report also noted that 161 of them were spotted in private lands such as coffee estates.
As much as the state takes pride in having the highest number of elephants in the country, human-elephant conflicts have been a persistent issue.
Mindless urban expansion at the cost of forest cover and elephant habitats, and infrastructural developments blocking movement of elephants have forced behavioural changes in elephants and increased instances of humans being exposed to the beasts. More often than not this results in conflicts. And very often it proves fatal for one or the other.
According to data from the Union Environment Ministry, 112 people died in Karnataka in the last four years as a result of elephant attacks. Across India, more than 1,500 people lost lives in the last three years due to elephant attacks, and 494 elephants were killed due to train accidents, electrocution, poaching, and poisoning in the last five years.
The numbers may look bleak, but the silver lining is that a bunch of researchers from Bengaluru and Karnataka are leading initiatives that strive to mitigate instances of human-elephant conflicts with the help of research, data, science and technology.