As we continue to screen the documentary to a wider audience, we see a growing and disturbing conflict between elephants and humans across the coffee estates of Coorg.
Just this morning, four elephants were electrocuted near Thithimathi due to a fallen high tension power line elephants encountered as they attempted to cross over from Nagarhole National Park to the coffee plantations.
According to Karthick Krishna, biologist for Tata Coffee, these elephant have been regularly noticed at Pollibetta, Siddapura and Guyya villages of the Virajpet forest division since 2012. This herd had 18 elephants in total, out of which six have died in last 10 days due to low wire sagging in the Ammathi, Ontiangadi village area. In addition, out of the four elephants killed today, one was the matriarch that used to frequent the coffee estates. She was considered rogue in nature by the forest department and the surrounding coffee estates. Why wasn't it captured before now? The answer is not clear?
The coffee plantations adjoining the Nagarhole National Park are on the edge with both people as well as humans continually affected everyday. Watch the documentary for a larger understanding of the problem and to know how you can help in resolving this difficult problem.
What is the solution? That's a common question asked by everyone. Should India build a fence around the national park, stopping elephants from coming out of the park? Should India give reclaim part of the agricultural land and give it back to the free roaming elephants? Should we all work harder to educate the public about co-existence of man and elephant?
The resolution of this problem requires broad policy involvement and passionate engagement with local communities. People living around the coffee land have a lot at stake in conserving and protecting the species there, as well as in developing a more sustainable harvest for the greater good.
Can there be co-existence? Can elephant ever regain their reverence as gods at a time when so many humans (and elephants) are being killed in this conflict? We struggle to answer those questions, but in the struggle we hope to make progress.
Dr. Thomas Grant
Professor of Journalism at Abraham Baldwin Agricultural College