Background of human-elephant conflict
Asian elephants live in countries with some of the highest human-densities in the world. As human population increases, and more elephant habitat is encroached, there is little space left where elephants can live without encountering humans. As we each compete for our ecological needs in this shared landscape, incidences of human-elephant conflict (HEC) tend to rise. In Peninsular Malaysia, the most common strategy to deal with rogue elephants since 1974 has been to capture and translocate them away from the conflict sites. In 2009, the Department of Wildlife and National Parks (PERHILITAN) Peninsular Malaysia started constructing electrical fences as another mitigation effort for HEC hotspots. Our work has involved extensive surveys on conflict and the perception and attitudes of smallholders towards the government-constructed electrical fences. We have also worked with various indigenous groups across Belum-Temengor to understand the relationship between humans and elephants. In MEME, we aim to understand the human and elephant dimensions of this conflict and to develop scientifically-tested methods to mitigate it.