International Journal of Scientific and Research Publications, Volume 2, Issue 8, August 2012 1
The scenario of man-elephant conflict in Hoollongapar
Gibbon Wildlife Sanctuary of Assam, India
Abstract- Man-elephant conflict is a crucial problem
concerning the north-eastern part of India. It has assumed a
severe character due to increasing human population,
diminishing forests and consequent habitat loss of the elephants.
Likewise is the case in Hoollongapar Gibbon Wildlife of Assam.
This wildlife sanctuary is a home to the endangered Asian
elephants and the increasing man-elephant conflict in this region
is posing serious threat to the elephants of the sanctuary.
Moreover, the local inhabitants are also suffering a lot due to the
increasing conflicts with the elephants. This paper is prepared in
the light of the situation’s gravity, which demands proper study
on it, so that the causes of the problem can be identified and
necessary suggestion can be forwarded for its solution.
Index Terms- Man elephant conflict, Gibbon Wildlife
onflict between man and elephant is not new. Rather it’s as
old as the human civilization itself. But in today’s world this
issue has grabbed serious concern due to the fast decrease in
elephant population world-wide. Elephants are gradually getting
endangered and man-elephant conflict being one of its prime
causes. Each year, human-elephant conflict results in about 300
human deaths and damage to 10,000-15,000 houses and 8-10
million hectares of crops, while over 200 elephants die due to
human-related activities, which include poaching for ivory or
meat, poisoning, cattle-borne diseases, electrocution and
collision with trains (Bist 2002).
Hoollongapar Gibbon Wildlife Sanctuary, also commonly
known as Gibbon wildlife Sanctuary is tremendously suffering
from the problem of man-elephant conflict. The problem is
growing day by day and has become a great cause of concern in
the region as it poses great threat to the lives of not only the
humans but also the elephants. There are frequents news of
deaths and casualty in the region owing to conflict between man
and elephants. Although the inhabitants of the region and its
vicinity seem to be concerned with it but not much has been done
for its amelioration.
II. STUDY AREA
The Gibbon Wild Life Sanctuary is located in the Jorhat
district of Assam (India). It is situated in close proximity to the
Naga Hills and the town of Mariani. Its geographical location is
26˚40´N to 26˚45´N latitude and 94˚20´E to 94˚25´E longitude.
As per the official records, the sanctuary accounts for an area of
20.48sq.km (Figure: 1).
It is a semi-evergreen forest region dominated by tropical
moist deciduous vegetation. It is an abode of many rare species
of flora as well as fauna. This sanctuary has the distinction of
having altogether seven primate species. The Bhogdoi River
flowing in the direction from south-east to north-west distinctly
demarcates the sanctuary by a permanent physical barrier and
along the most part of the boundary line of the sanctuary stands
the settlement areas and the tea gardens (Bhattacharjee, 2008)
Figure 1: Location map of the study area.
International Journal of Scientific and Research Publications, Volume 2, Issue 8, August 2012 2
Figure 2: Map of Gibbon Wildlife Sanctuary
III. DATABASE AND METHODOLOGY
The entire frame of the study is categorically built on rigorous
field investigation and observation. As such the data collected
are mostly primary in nature. However, along with it some
secondary sources of data like books and journals, etc have also
been consulted to prepare the report. Both inductive and
deductive approaches are adopted in the study.
IV. ANALYSIS AND FINDINGS
The area of Gibbon Wildlife Sanctuary is merely 20.48sq.km,
which is too small in size to provide the requirement of habitat.
Besides, the increasing population pressure has led to large scale
human settlement in the periphery areas of the sanctuary and
many small villages have come up in the region by encroachment
of the forest area. These villages were established during the 60’s
to rehabilitate the flood affected landless people of Majuli and
adjoining areas (Hazarika & Gupta, 2005). This has led to
frequent conflict between man and elephant. This problem has
developed simultaneously for both man and elephants due to
their growing population and consequently growing needs.
Infact, frequent invasion into each other’s territory by the
humans and the elephants has become a common practice in the
Previously, the sanctuary extended up to the Naga Hills and
was connected to the Dissoi Valley Reserve Forest. But with the
growth of tea gardens in the subsequent periods the sanctuary
gradually got detached from the Reserve Forest area, giving rise
to the problem of space and food. At a trace the sanctuary can
provide food to the elephants for hardly three to four months
(Bhattacharjee, 2008). So, the elephants have a natural tendency
to move towards the Desoi valley Reserve Forest in search of
food. Demolition of the elephant corridor linking Gibbon Wild
Life Sanctuary and the nearest Desoi Valley reserve forest is
perhaps a major set-back associated with this problem of
depredation (Bhattacharjee & Goswami, 2009). This movement
of the elephants happens through the tea-gardens and the village
settlements which have grown between these two forests areas.
This causes panic among the villagers and the people of the tea
garden, compelling them to adopt various measures to drive the
elephants away. This gives rise to serious conflict between man
and elephants in the region. In this course of action loss occurs to
both life (man & elephant) and property.
The Hoollongapar Gibbon Wild Life Sanctuary does not have
a permanent source of water. The run-off water of the channels is
very quick and during winter season these channels dry up.
Water retains only in small pockets of the sanctuary. Although
the river Bhogdoi flows in close proximity to the sanctuary, there
is large scale human settlement near it. As such very often when
the elephants go to the river in search of water, the human
population of the region gets frightened and tries to drive off the
elephants resulting into conflict between man and elephants.
In search of food the elephants very often break-in the
agricultural fields in the village area. To save their crops the
villagers try to scare away the elephants and indulge into conflict
The people of the nearby tea-garden area are in the habit of
making and consuming home-made country liquor, of which
these elephants are very fond off. So, in search of this liquor the
elephants frequently visit the tea garden area and plunder the
The sanctuary in the absence of any proper demarcation
cannot restrict the movement of elephants outside and makes
them vulnerable to poaching. Moreover, the habitat in this forest
is highly degraded due to continuous illegal felling and
encroachment by the local people especially by the labourers of
the adjoining tea gardens (Chakraborty & Gupta 2005).
The most shocking part of affairs is the existence of a railway
line which divides the sanctuary into two parts. This railway line
serves as a death trap for the animals. There are many incidences
of elephant (and other animals’) injuries and deaths in the
sanctuary owing to train accidents.
V. SUGGESTION AND CONCLUSION
From the findings of the study it is quite clearly that man-
elephant conflict in the region is an outcome of the growing
space crisis. This space crisis is a product of the diminishing area
of the sanctuary, increasing human population in its periphery
combined with human interference within the sanctuary and
shortage of food and water in the sanctuary (Figure: 3).
International Journal of Scientific and Research Publications, Volume 2, Issue 8, August 2012 3
Figure 3: Entwined causes of man-elephant conflict in
Gibbon Wildlife Sanctuary.
Keeping this in view the following suggestions are forwarded
to tackle the problem of man-elephant conflict in the region:
(a) The government land attached to the sanctuary must be
brought under its jurisdiction which will enlarge the space
and enable free and fare movement of elephants and the
(b) To provide food and shelter to the elephants of the
sanctuary proper emphasis should be given to develop a
more variable and feasible dense forest cover.
(c) It is necessary to derive a solution to open up the elephant
corridors for free movement out wards of the sanctuary
without disturbing the settlement areas.
(d) To reduce the intensity of elephant deaths and injuries due
to train accidents, the railways authorities may be
requested to reduce the speed of trains while passing
through the Sanctuary area.
(e) Alternatives should be given to the livelihood of the
neighboring villages. This will reduce the dependency of
the people on the sanctuary and there by decrease the
intensity of man-elephant conflict in the region.
(f) A buffer zone can be created between the sanctuary and
the settlement area by planting unpalatable crops like
chilly, citrus and tobacco, etc along with thorny bushes.
(g) Emphasis should be given to develop a permanent fresh
water ecosystem, so that sufficient drinking water is
available for the elephants within the sanctuary itself.
(h) The local people generally use various unscientific
measures (like bursting fire crackers and throwing stones)
to control elephant depredation. This aggravates the
problem rather than solving it. As such the local people
should be imparted proper training by the forest officials,
so that they can drive away the elephants using proper
scientific methods. This would help in reducing man-
elephant conflict in the region.
(i) A radically different forest management policy based in
joint management principle (People-Forest Department-
traditional institutions- NGO’s) is essential to be adapted
on the basis of the sanctuary’s need and existing pattern to
check the problem of man-elephant conflict.
 S. Bhattacharjee & B.N Goswami, 2009, “Gibbon Wildlife Sanctuary:
Denominating the vital crisis of the Fauna Family”, Procedings of
Seminar on Strategy for resource functioning In North-east India, Titabar,
 S. Bhattacharjee, 2008, “Gibbon Wildlife Sanctuary: A search into its
physio-ecological setup”, M.Sc thesis, IIEE, New Delhi.
 D. Chakraborty & A.K Gupta, 2005, “Impact of Habitat Fragmentation on
Hoolock Gibbon (Bunopithecus hoolock) in Gibbon Wildlife Sanctuary,
Assam, India”, Conservation of Hoolock Gibbon (Bonopithecus hoolock) in
Northeast India, Wildlife Institute of India, Dehradune, pp. 213-232
 R.Hazarika & A.K Gupta, 2005, “Resource Sharing by Hoolock Gibbon
(Bunopithecus hoolock) with two primate species in Gibbon Wildlife
Sanctuary, Assam, India”, Conservation of Hoolock Gibbon (Bonopithecus
hoolock) in Northeast India, Wildlife Institute of India, Dehradune, pp.233-
 S.S Bist, 2002, “An overview of elephant conservation in India, The Indian
Forester 128, Dehradune, pp.121-136.
 J. Borah, K. Thakuria, K. K. Baruah, N. K. Sarma, and K. Deka, July, 2005,
“Man-elephant conflict Problem: A case study”, ZooPrintMagazine, viewed
15 July, 2012
 B. M. A. Oswin Perera, 2009, “The Human-Elephant Conflict: A Review of
Current Status and Mitigation Methods”, Gajah: Journal of the IUCN/SSC
Asian Elephant Specialist Group 30, viewed 15 July, 2012
 Hoolongapar Nature’s society, Annual Report, 2002, Mariani
Qualification – M.A (Geography) from J.B College,
Jorhat & M.Sc (Geo-informatics)
from IIEE, New Delhi, India.
Email – firstname.lastname@example.org
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