The Bangalore Mirror, a large English language daily in Karnataka, spoke to experts about elephant conflicts after viewing "Elephants in the Coffee."
The documentary promotes efforts of co-existence between coffee farmers and elephants in the Western Ghats of India, where conflicts over agriculture have become a huge threat to elephants and people. The newspaper consulted two experts.
"Conservationist Padma Ashok is also of the opinion that co-existence is the only way forward. She opines that solutions need to be thought of by people local to the area, by taking into consideration the topography, landscape and geographical features of the area. 'From the elevation to the length of the river in that area, everything matters. And you need a combination of two-three solutions to tackle the problem, because elephants are able to outsmart most,' she says."
While Padma Ashok's idea seems quite sensible to us, there are other views, as the Mirror pointed out.
"Praveen Bhargav, former member of the National Board for Wildlife, believes harmonious co-existence is 'one of the greatest myths in conservation', a utopian idea that 'rarely works in the long term with most conflict-prone large mammals.' He advocates 'site-specific solutions driven by scientific knowledge and a deep understanding of the social context'.
"He adds: 'Loss of a family member is tragic but it must be seen in perspective. In Karnataka alone, more than 10,000 people have lost their lives in road accidents in 2015 while around 15 people have died due to elephant conflict. Large swathes of elephant habitat have been fragmented/lost due to agriculture, human settlements, encroachments, dams, highways, resorts etc which is a major driver of conflict. There is no magical solution but conflict can be minimised by spatially separating humans and large wildlife to the extent possible by deflecting developmental projects, preventing ad-hoc grants of public lands by the revenue department, incentive-driven voluntary resettlements and innovative ideas for creating viable buffers around reserves involving local communities. In some specific cases, marooned, isolated population of elephants may have to be moved out to minimise conflict.'"
As D.K. Bhaskar has long maintained, saving elephants will not be easy, and it needs to start with many serious conversations like this about what is the best approach
The producers of "Elephants in the Coffee" spoke with Laurie McAndish King of KCBX-FM, Central Coast Public Radio., and she produced this story.
"Most people know that coffee is the world’s most popular beverage, but few realize that farmers in India may have actually given their lives for that morning cuppa Joe. Laurie McAndish King talks via Skype with the producers of the documentary film, Elephants in the Coffee: The God that became a “Menace.” DK Bhaskar and Dr. Thomas Grant explain that people tend to idealize elephants; some Indians even worship them as gods.
"But elephants are increasingly forced to share space with coffee growers. Both elephants and humans risk their lives when they are in the same place at the same time."
Here is the link to hear the podcast.
The Hindu, a newspaper with more than a million circulation, wrote about "Elephants in the Coffee" today. Thank you Bhumika K. for looking so deeply at our project. She wrote:
-- “A god that became a menace” may be a catchy phrase while talking about elephants in India. Or it might just succinctly put a whole lot of conflicting ideas in front of you. Internationally-renowned photographer and filmmaker D.K. Bhaskar and journalist Tom Grant have come together with students from America’s Abraham Baldwin Agricultural College to create Elephants In The Coffee, a 58-minute documentary.
Here is what the page looked like:
DK Bhaskar is traveling to four showing of "Elephants in the Coffee" in India. You can see it at these locations:
April 23 - Suchitra Film Academy, Bangalore
April 25 - PES Institutions, Hosur Road, Bangalore
April 27 - Azim Premji University, Bangalore
May 8 - International School of Broadcasting and Journalism, Pune
Dr. Thomas Grant
Professor of Journalism at Abraham Baldwin Agricultural College