The New York Times Magazine had an interesting story Sunday about the increasing conflicts between man and elephant.

It’s representative of a common thread woven through many of the debates we see across the country. How to balance our growing population’s needs with the natural values and needs of the environment around us. Here that plays out in debates about construction impacts on endangered species such as the San Diego fairy shrimp or bighorn sheep. On the East Coast, run-ins with black bears are more common than they once were.

The problem with elephants, though, is that they’re bigger than fairy shrimp. And they’re fighting back.

The New York Times reports:

All across Africa, India and parts of Southeast Asia, from within and around whatever patches and corridors of their natural habitat remain, elephants have been striking out, destroying villages and crops, attacking and killing human beings. In fact, these attacks have become so commonplace that a new statistical category, known as Human-Elephant Conflict, or H.E.C., was created by elephant researchers in the mid-1990’s to monitor the problem.

In the Indian state of Jharkhand near the western border of Bangladesh, 300 people were killed by elephants between 2000 and 2004. In the past 12 years, elephants have killed 605 people in Assam, a state in northeastern India, 239 of them since 2001; 265 elephants have died in that same period, the majority of them as a result of retaliation by angry villagers, who have used everything from poison-tipped arrows to laced food to exact their revenge. In Africa, reports of human-elephant conflicts appear almost daily, from Zambia to Tanzania, from Uganda to Sierra Leone, where 300 villagers evacuated their homes last year because of unprovoked elephant attacks.

The story is here.


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