Success in human elephant conflict resolution - Lessons from forestry management in Kuiburi National Park | WWF
Success in human elephant conflict resolution - Lessons from forestry management in Kuiburi National Park

Posted on 21 December 2007

Decade long conflicts between humans and elephants have been partly resolved at Kuiburi National Park in Thailand as a result of innovative strategies introduced into forest management practices.

Decade long conflicts between humans and elephants have been partly resolved at Kuiburi National Park in Thailand as a result of innovative strategies introduced into forest management practices.

A decade ago conflict was rife in Kuiburi National Park, Prachuap Khiri Khan Province in south west Thailand bordering Myanmar. News of as many as 120 elephants entering neighboring agricultural lands and wild elephants killed by poisoning gave the issue and site a high profile in the media.

Since then WWF Thailand has stepped up its efforts to set clear and achievable goals to work with administrative bodies and address the core of the problem by using participatory approaches in land management and bolstering local Wild Elephant Management Committee to end the conflicts and achieve long term conservation goals.

It came as a result of a series of dialogues and intensive work to better understand the dynamics of the conflict under a project called “Strengthening Management for a Key Population of Elephants at Kuiburi National Park in the Tenasserim Range” between the Department of National Park, Wildlife and Plant Conservation, Kuiburi National Park and WWF Greater Mekong’s Forest Resources Management Unit (Thailand Country Program) and was funded by WWF US and US Fish and Wildlife Service.

The project gave rise to two sub-committees looking after planning and management of elephants inside and outside Kuiburi National Park area.

A year after the projects implementation, there is better cooperation between the stakeholders (comprising of pineapple farmers, local administrative bodies, WWF Thailand, local NGOs and Kuiburi National Park) in looking for better ways to end the human elephant conflict.  As a result, news of conflict from the area has considerably lessened.

One of the pineapple farmers who now serves as a member in Kuiburi National Park Advisory Board, Sing Suebsuttha said,  “It is successful now because all stakeholders offer more cooperation and talk more. In the past, villagers rarely talked to the authorities. Government officials in different departments did not talk among themselves either. So, the problem persisted. Now, villagers’ farms including mine, are disturbed by elephants less than before. However, we still need to strengthen and increase cooperation.”

In the past, authorities tried to grow more trees and force wild elephants back into the forest with little success. Today, new approaches involving participation and cooperation from local farmers and community leaders have eased and improved the situation.

WWF has set a long term goal to push for more dialogues and cooperation between networks of government and non governmental organizations in Thailand for active involvement in managing the forests and conserving wildlife.

Notes

  • Kuiburi National Park is a part of Kaengkrachan-Kuiburi forest complex  containing 4 reserves (Kaeng Krachan National Park, Kuiburi National Park, Chalerm Phrakiat Thai Prachan National Park, and Pha Chi Wildlife Sanctuary). Around 120-140 wild elephants are found in Kuiburi National Park and an estimated 100-200 live in Kaeng Krachan National Park. No elephants are found today  in Chalerm Phrakiat Thai Prachan National Park or Pha Chi Wildlife Sanctuary, although there is evidence that suggest elephants once lived in these areas.
  • Problems of conflict between human and elephants at Kuiburi and Kaeng Krachan reflected other bigger and prolonged problems of forest encroachment, wildlife poaching and unsustainable use of forest resources by nearby communities.
  • Kaeng Krachan-Kuiburi Forest Complex is an important corridor to connect different forests to avoid inbreeding among wild animals especially large mammals, and the larger forest areas can bring an end to human-animal conflict, poaching, and forest encroachment. It also serves as an area to preserve Thailand’s fresh water crocodiles (Crocodylus siamensis) and other endangered species.
  • A target forest area under the project called Monitoring the Illegal Trade of Elephants – MIKE was approved by a committee of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora in March 1999.

For more information contact

Supol Jitvijak
Head
Forest Resources Management Unit
WWF Greater Mekong
Thailand Country Programm


Location of Kuiburi National Park in the Kaeng Krachan Forest Complex
© WWF Thailand
Kuiburi National Park - Thailand
© Chonlathorn/WWF Thailand
Pineapple farmer in Kaengkrachan- Kuiburi forest complex
© Supol Jitvijak/ WWF Greater Mekong
Herd of elephants
© Varasoon/ WWF Greater Mekong