A passive fence that guides elephants away from agricultural fields adjacent to Thailand’s largest national park has sharply reduced crop-raiding incidents, said conservationists from the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS).
The fence guides elephants to keep them inside the park while still allowing for other smaller wildlife – including baby elephants – to pass through.
The technique started nine years ago when WCS and the Thai Government introduced semi-permanent fencing to limit the accessibility to crop fields for elephants. Recently, with significant investment from the provincial government, an additional 22 kilometers (13.6 miles) of semi-permanent fence was erected on the eastern side of an agricultural enclave adjacent to the Kaeng Krachan National Park.
Overall, the number of human-elephant incidents in the area have decreased by around 90 percent – from more than 400 in 2005 to about 40 incidents in 2020. Based on this success, the Department of National Parks, Wildlife and Plant Conservation is now extending an additional 43-kilometers (26.7 miles) of fencing on both the eastern and western edges of the enclave, allowing humans and elephants to share the landscape with reduced negative impacts on both sides.
Human–elephant conflict, especially crop raiding, generates antagonistic attitudes toward elephants and can lead to farmers killing elephants and/or destroying their habitat. In Kaeng Krachan National Park elephants have historically engaged in raiding fields of banana and pineapple around a key agricultural enclave in the south of the park.
Kaeng Krachan National Park (KKNP) is the largest national park in Thailand, 3,060 square kilometers (1181 square miles) located on the border with Myanmar. It as an important landscape for Asian elephants, with an estimated population of 200-250 individuals, primarily occupying the southern half of the park.