According to the elephant distribution survey which in collaboration between Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) Thailand program and Kaeng Krachan National Park (KKNP) during 2003-2004, found that main threat to wild elephants is human disturbance such as poaching and clearing of elephant habitat for agricultural use. Consequently, they were mainly distributed only in lower part of KKNP. In addition, Human-elephant Conflict (HEC) has long been addressed in some areas adjacent to KKNP border through crop damage incidences. Therefore, WCS in collaboration with KKNP has established elephant conservation measure within KKNP which leads to establishment of several projects such as strengthening law enforcement—smart patrol system. Moreover, we have been continuously helped villagers improving an appropriate HEC mitigation scheme since 2005.
Results from HEC monitoring around KKNP showed the highest damage (e.g. elephant crop raiding) frequency was reported along the southern edge of the park which are Huai Sad Yai Sub-district (HSY) in Petchaburi Province following by Pa Deng Sub-district in Prachuap Khiri Khan Province.
Active Local Involvement in HEC Monitoring
Within KKNP, HEC is most serious in communities along the southern edge of the park. Thus, HEC mitigation needs close collaboration between stakeholders who include not only park authorities and local communities, but also political leaders who support and are committed to prolonged implementation of HEC mitigation policy. The ultimate goal is to ensure long-term survival of elephant populations by minimizing human disturbance and promoting coexistence between humans and elephants. Four districts that actively cooperate with WCS include Pa Deng, Huai Sad Yai, Nong Plub, Bueng Nakhon, a partnership which has resulted in lessened intensity of HEC within these areas.
The implementation of human-elephant conflict mitigation strategy
We have tested a number of elephant detection methods, passive deterrents, and active deterrents since September 2006. Our results showed that using alarm/detection systems (i.e. alarm fence) together with coordinated night response team is the most cost effective way to deter elephants. We therefore recommend the use of these combined methods in HEC hotspots in/around KKNP. However, community participation is the key element for successful mitigation of HEC using the combined methods we tested. Therefore, alarm fence and vigilance team have been developed and promoted to the communities around KKNP as a standard scheme from 2006 to present.
Due to the small size of agricultural area in Nong Plub Sub-district, Petchaburi Province where was surrounded by mountain, resulting in limiting elephant access to the area. Together with 900 m alarm fence and coordinated night response team, consequently, damage was reduced more than 90% compared to other areas. However, the alarm fence could not work effectively in large area where consists of more number of land use type. Therefore, since 2009 WCS has been supported night response team due to they can prevent and reduce crop damage obviously. In addition, to improve HEC mitigation and to reduce elephant kill, thus, semi-permanent (concrete) fence has been built in HSY where surveillance has not done thoroughly and elephant frequently cross to crop fields, hardly stop by vigilance team.