As formidable instruments of war, they have changed the destinies of empires.
As marauding crop raiders, they are despised.
As an endangered species, they are cherished.
Numerous and often contrasting are the ways in which elephants have been regarded by humans across millennia. Today, with reduced forest cover, human population expansion, and increasing industrialization, interaction between the two species is unavoidable and conflict is not mere happenstance. What, then, is the future of this relationship?
In South Asia, human-elephant relationships resonate with cultural significance. From the importance of elephants in ancient texts to the role of mahouts over centuries, from discussions on de-extinction to accounts of intimate companionship, the essays in this book reveal the various dynamics of the relationship between two intelligent social mammals. Eschewing such binaries as human and animal or nature and culture, the essays present elephants as subjective agents who think, feel, and emote.
Conflict, Negotiation, and Coexistence underscores the fact that we cannot understand elephant habitat and behavior in isolation from the humans that help configure it. Significantly, nor can we understand human political, economic, and social life without the elephants that shape and share the world with them.