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The elephant at the fence: almsman, panhandler, friend or foe?


Fernando, Prithiviraj; Ekanayaka, Sampath K K; Pastorini, Jennifer (2020). The elephant at the fence: almsman, panhandler, friend or foe? European Journal of Wildlife Research, 66:97.

Abstract

Feeding of wild Asian elephants at the Udawalawe National Park perimeter electric fence by the general public is longstanding. We monitored the elephants and feeding activities, and conducted questionnaire surveys of stakeholders. Over 50 individual adult male elephants engaged in the activity. The exclusive male presence was consistent with a high-risk high-gain male strategy. The elephants were mostly offered fruits and vegetables. Over a thousand people a day watched and fed the elephants. Most people bought food for elephants from roadside stalls and vendors had significantly more sales if elephants were present. The feeding of elephants brought significant economic benefit to communities bordering the park. We found the impacts of feeding on the elephants and environment to be largely neutral. Impacts on people and conservation were mainly positive. Actions taken by authorities to stop the feeding have targeted the elephants and resulted in the decrease of feeding but not its elimination. Managing the activity instead would help increase economic benefits and ensure safe interaction between people and elephants. Such management, by directly benefitting local communities, could make them partners in the conservation process and form the basis of an effective outreach program.

Abstract

Feeding of wild Asian elephants at the Udawalawe National Park perimeter electric fence by the general public is longstanding. We monitored the elephants and feeding activities, and conducted questionnaire surveys of stakeholders. Over 50 individual adult male elephants engaged in the activity. The exclusive male presence was consistent with a high-risk high-gain male strategy. The elephants were mostly offered fruits and vegetables. Over a thousand people a day watched and fed the elephants. Most people bought food for elephants from roadside stalls and vendors had significantly more sales if elephants were present. The feeding of elephants brought significant economic benefit to communities bordering the park. We found the impacts of feeding on the elephants and environment to be largely neutral. Impacts on people and conservation were mainly positive. Actions taken by authorities to stop the feeding have targeted the elephants and resulted in the decrease of feeding but not its elimination. Managing the activity instead would help increase economic benefits and ensure safe interaction between people and elephants. Such management, by directly benefitting local communities, could make them partners in the conservation process and form the basis of an effective outreach program.

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Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:07 Faculty of Science > Department of Evolutionary Anthropology
Dewey Decimal Classification:300 Social sciences, sociology & anthropology
Scopus Subject Areas:Life Sciences > Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
Physical Sciences > Nature and Landscape Conservation
Physical Sciences > Management, Monitoring, Policy and Law
Uncontrolled Keywords:Ecology, Animal Science and Zoology, Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics, Management, Monitoring, Policy and Law, Nature and Landscape Conservation
Language:English
Date:1 December 2020
Deposited On:18 Nov 2020 08:58
Last Modified:23 Jun 2024 01:45
Publisher:Springer
ISSN:1439-0574
OA Status:Hybrid
Free access at:Publisher DOI. An embargo period may apply.
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.1007/s10344-020-01435-5
  • Content: Published Version
  • Licence: Creative Commons: Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0)