Date of Award

Summer 8-4-2023

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)



First Advisor

Joshua Plotnik

Second Advisor

Liv Baker Van de Graaff

Academic Program Adviser

Diana Reiss


The consequences of human-elephant-conflict are of concern to a range of interests, including conservation, animal welfare, and socio-economic initiatives. Loss of crops due to elephants is a particularly contentious issue and a multitude of elephant deterrents have been tried to help prevent or diminish crop-foraging. This study examines the seasonal crop-foraging habits of Asian elephants just outside of Salakpra Wildlife Sanctuary, Thailand. Specifically, we sought to analyze when the elephants would forage crops, for how long, and how farmer presence affected this behavior. Additionally, to better understand patterns of deterrent use, we cataloged which deterrents were deployed by the farmers in real time. Video footage of elephants was taken from watchtowers positioned within the crop fields. In part, we analyzed these videos for the time it took a crop-foraging elephant to leave the field when the farmer was present as a measure of deterrence (termed forest latency). Farmer presence (n = 53) significantly shortened the time spent crop foraging by elephants (p = .011). Beyond mere presence, farmers used more various types of deterrents, and used them more frequently the longer elephants were in the fields. Deterrents consisted of lights, firecrackers, cars, and yelling. Elephants crop-foraged in significantly larger groups during the cool season (n = 55) compared to the rainy season (n = 35) (p = .022). To our knowledge, this is the first study to use first-hand video data collection to systematically analyze when and how elephants crop forage, as well as how farmers respond to the foraging event. By better understanding when foraging occurs and the varying success of deterrent strategies, results can aid in the development of more effective management solutions for this landscape to better support the community of elephants and people.

Available for download on Monday, July 28, 2025