The HEC Field Guide: Supporting SLWCS in their safety outreach helping People and Elephants Coexist
SLWCS (The Sri Lanka Wildlife Conservation Society), created these multi-lingual safety guides to help teach villagers living near elephants how to navigate wild encounters. We loved their guides and funded the printing for 2000 to be distributed where they are needed most.
Elephants as Neighbors
The field guides were distributed by SLWCS partners where there is the most conflict, helping people co-exist with elephants in their quickly changing world. Helping families, both human and elephant, stay safe in their homes by learning how to negotiate living in close quarters is an ongoing, and changing, endeavor.
Often times the methods used by villagers to scare elephants away from their homes and crops only increases the aggression on both sides, thus any sustainable solution must address the needs of both the elephants and the people. We love elephants, and we love people too, and when you help save one, you help save the other. We were happy to fund the printing of the SLWCS Field Guides, believing education can save lives–both elephant and human.
Children of HEC
There are so many complex and changing issues surrounding both captive and wild elephants, with no easy solutions. Although we now run projects in several countries, it was the first children of HEC we met in Sri Lanka that had us turn a lot of our attention and our funding to understanding, and then helping shift, Human Elephant Conflict though education.
In many conflict situations it is the children and women who suffer the most, and it is no different with human-elephant conflict. When elephants destroy crops, children might go hungry or live in fear, and when they destroy homes in search of food, children not only go hungry but also become homeless and sometimes irrevocably so. If a farmer is killed by a crop-raiding elephant, his wife and children become destitute, just like that, and an “elephant story” that didn’t need to happen, did. Again. And when homelessness and hopelessness collude, the resulting actions are often violent.
And yet, when an elephant is killed in retaliation or as a last resort, it is the children who lose again because the elephant is in their blood. No place in the world has such a long and complex history with elephants as Sri Lanka, and as this generation grows up many of these children will never connect with the very presence that is their heritage and their legacy. It has been a joy to work with SLWCS, learning from them as well, from their innate understanding they possess of the complex realities of HEC.