Behaviour 2019
“Understanding” elephant cognition in the mitigation of human-elephant conflict 
Joshua M. Plotnik1,2, Sarah L. Jacobson2. 1Dept of Psychology, Hunter College, City University of New York, New York, NY, United States; 2Dept of Psychology, Graduate Center, City University of New York, New York, NY, United States

Human-wildlife conflict (HWC) is a fast-growing problem in countries around the world due to habitat lost and encroachment, but remarkably, animal behavior is often one of the most neglected factors in attempts to mitigate it. This is largely due to a focus on the design of strategies that focus on human-centric perspectives. In this talk, we argue that a coexistence approach that accounts for the needs of both humans and animals is necessary for the implementation of sustainable solutions to HWC. While HWC primarily describes conflicts between people over wildlife, the latter can be a party to conflict when their behavior changes as a direct result of, and is subsequently directed toward humans. This is particularly true for animals that show behavioral flexibility, as their ability to adapt to static mitigation can often increase the intensity of conflict. We will discuss our own work on individual differences in wild elephants in the Salakpra Wildlife Sanctuary in Thailand, and discuss how we plan to use behavioral data to inform the implementation of a “mitigation tool-kit” that takes both human and elephant behavior and ecology into account.