Children should learn about ecological significance of jumbos, says study

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The ecological and cultural significance of elephants need to be included in children’s curriculum to change their perception towards the gentle giants and help them become sensitive towards wildlife and biodiversity of which humans are only a small part, suggested a latest study.

The research study by Medha Nayak and Prof Pranaya Kumar Swain published in international journal ‘Human Dimensions of Wildlife’ has also suggested that children’s perception towards elephants needs to be addressed through appropriate communication to reduce their antagonism and foster empathy towards the elephants.

The suggestions were made by the researchers on the basis of their study ‘Perceptions through artwork: Children’s understanding of elephants and human-elephant interactions in Balasore, India’ in which drawing was used as a method to know the perception of children of a school in Jadibali – a village affected by human-elephant conflict in Balasore district – towards the jumbos.

Of 47 drawings collected from Class-IX and X students of Padmalochan Mundahana High School in the village, around 70 per cent (33) depicted destruction of crops and other vegetation while about 28 per cent participants expressed concern over damage to paddy crops by the elephants. Houses damaged by elephants were also seen in 13 sketches.

However, there was also a perception among the students that proximity of human settlements and croplands to the forests was one of the most common reasons behind human-elephant conflict, while around 17 per cent of students depicted rampant deforestation as another reason. A girl also had the perception that the conflict is the result of rising human population and decreasing forest land.

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