Incidents with elephants and deforestation

Located amidst imposing mountains in Karnataka with a perpetually misty landscape, Coorg is the place to be for all nature lovers.


Contrary to what is advertised, nature lovers might be a bit lost in Coorg.

We just published this paper “Deforestation Increases Frequency of Incidents With Elephants (Elephas maximus)” available here, in Tropical Conservation Science. It may be the first paper that shows a correlation between the intensity of deforestation and increased incidents with elephants.

The region this paper focused on was Coorg or Kodagu, in between the Nilgiris Biosphere Reserve and the Badra Tiger Reserve. In approximately 50 years, most private forests were transformed into coffee plantations. The Indian Forest Act did little to halt the degradation of forests. Today, the corridor between the Nilgiris Biosphere Reserve and the Badra Tiger Reserve is gone. Elephants remaining in this landscape are terrified, hungry and lost. They kill people and provoke destruction. To add to people’s difficulties, the price of coffee sometimes goes down, which is a reminder that monoculture may not be the best way to wealth. With global warming, the monsoon will probably become weaker, bringing less water and the “cleaning” of the forest may not bring the expected economic returns.

We avoided to use the word “conflict” to prefer the word “incidents”. Elephants are not in conflict with humans. They just attempt to survive in their former habitat that happens to be in between protected areas. The term “conflict” is convenient whenever we want to prove that elephants are responsible for a situation. But as we show in this paper, the only conflict is what we want to do with our world.

Jean-Philippe Puyravaud