The Basics: Human-Elephant Conflict

Why should we care?


the asian elephant is endangered.

With a population of less than 50,000 individuals, the Asian Elephant species has been reduced in numbers by over half in the last one-hundred years, largely due to human-driven causes. Sixty percent of today's Asian Elephant population resides in the forests of India, which are prone to deforestation as humanity expands into historically-forested areas. This deforestation has led to fragmentation of the elephant's natural habitat and forced the elephants to be broken up into over forty different groups living on separated swaths of land. Without continuous habitat, the elephant groups are forced into human-inhabited land to search for adequate food and shelter, where violence ensues as the two species groups come in contact.

human elephant conflict (HEC)

Elephants are feared. They follow a natural and instinctual path of migration that is disrupted when humans become part of the landscape. The development by humans of the land causes the elephants to become agitated and flustered, often stampeding and destroying entire villages, properties, and compromising valuable agricultural products in their path. Elephants kill an average of 400 people a year. In retaliation, humans kill elephants by hunting, poisoning, trench trapping and electrocuting them as they venture out of forested areas. This is called Human Elephant Conflict or HEC. 

Conflict and Tea Gardens

The tea producing regions of Southeast Asia coincide with the areas inhabited by the Asian Elephant. Thus, the gardens are a frequent site of HEC. When elephants are on the search for food, it is nearly impossible for them to distinguish between a tea garden and the forest they reside in. Yet, when the elephants enter a garden they are likely met with harsh retaliation by those working there. The state of confusion caused by humans attempting to drive the elephants out of the garden can cause extreme agitation for the animals, leading to stampeding and death of tea garden workers. This is both a humanitarian and conservation issue. In order for unnecessary damage and harm to be avoided,  proper mitigation strategies need to be implemented in tea gardens to promote peaceful coexistence of humans and elephants. While many tea growers do not have the resources to make this a reality, Elephant Approved® is striving to improve conditions for both humans and elephants in tea producing regions of the world. 

Why do we care about elephants?

At Petali Teas, we are aware that our consumption habits can have serious consequences for communities across the world and the tea industry is not exempt. Elephant conservation is paramount for ecosystem survival and a culturally significant symbol. The elephant is considered a keystone species meaning that they play a serious role in maintenance of the ecosystem in which they participate. Their habits are necessary for the continued success of flora and fauna- they spread seeds, produce fertilizer, prune trees, open tree canopies, and aerate soil. Elephants have long been recognized as a sacred part of many religions, including Hinduism and Buddhism. They are highly intelligent with reasoning skills, emotions, empathy, sympathy and they need our help. The Asian Elephant is truly a unique and magnificent creature, who plays an important role in maintaining the structural integrity of natural areas of India and Asia as a whole. 

Read about what we are doing at Elephant Approved® to help combat Human Elephant Conflict. 


  • Share. Spread the word about Human Elephant Conflict and the plight of the elephants. 
  • Purchase teasfrom gardens and estates with a commitment to creating wildlife havens and reducing conflict. 
  • Show your support for elephant conservation through your purchase of Elephant Approved® goods. 
  • Ask your local coffee and tea shops to carry Elephant Approved® teas and goods. 
  • Donate to support our efforts. 
Photo by Amit Kackrot

Photo by Amit Kackrot