Research

Understanding the attitude of the local communities towards human-wildlife conflict is crucial to forming sustainable strategies to mitigate such conflicts. In October 2015, BTEH and conservation leaders conducted a survey amongst 410 people who live around Chong Sa Dao sub-district. The key findings of this research, which was done in collaboration with Miami University, allowed BTEH to have a better understanding on the HEC situation in Salakpra Wildlife Sanctuary. The survey findings are as follows:

People working in the agricultural sector have a more negative impression of elephants because elephants raid crops, such as cassava, banana, jackfruit and mango. People who gain benefits through a community-based conservation program have a much more positive attitude towards the elephants, compared to villagers who do not benefit from these programs. Most people (87%) feel that it is important to invest in elephant conservation because elephants attract eco-tourists and conservation initiatives. This is mostly due to the fact that the local villagers have a long history of coexisting harmoniously with the elephants and the fact that the elephant is considered the symbol of Thailand.

In addition to the survey, BTEH organized Participatory Action Research to bring community members and park rangers together to talk about conflict reconciliation. Participatory Action Research facilitates dialogue and stimulates ownership of conservation projects by community members. Under the common goal ‘A healthy environment for elephants brings people’s happiness’, the activities that are desired by both communities and park officers were discussed and added to the planning of the Conservation Leadership Program. To plan our forest restoration work, research data on the behaviour and movements of the elephants is important. On Borneo, research has been done by the Danau Girang Field Centre in the Lower Kinabatangan Wildlife Sanctuary to develop models for habitat suitability and to locate corridors. At the moment nine elephants wear a GPS-collar to map their migration routes and mark problem areas. With this project we help to translate research data into practical action, to save the Borneo elephants from extinction. In forest restoration projects research is essential to provide data on tree survival and growth and to provide an opportunity to learn from past successes and failures. With our monitoring programs we find out whether or not the planted trees have survived and grown well in the first few years after planting in certain climate and circumstances. Ultimately we want to measure how fast the restored forest becomes similar to the target forest ecosystem and is restored as suitable habitat for wild elephants.

 

By setting up experimental plots, we can find answers to questions like:

  • What tested tree species meet the required criteria?
  • How can plantation design be optimized in the local conditions. E.g. what species survive well in Salakpra Wildlife Sanctuary (bamboo dominated forest) or in the Kinabatangan Wildlife Sanctuary (evergreen mixed swamp forest)?
  • How fast does biodiversity recover? How does distance to nearest forest affect biodiversity recovery?
  • What is the impact of wild elephants on forest restoration work?