top of page
Page Top

Our Projects

VFAE’s mission and vision are driven by specific projects and timelines. You can now donate to the project that resonates with your heart and soul, while helping us improve the welfare conditions of endangered Asian elephants.

Food and Water for Odisha's Distraught Elephants

Food and Water for Odisha Elephants
Waterhole at the Jurki-Raipal-Sarisua intersection in the Balasore range

Waterhole at the Jurki-Raipal-Sarisua intersection in the Balasore range

01:04
Play Video
Waterhole at Bhagabandh-Sarisua-Kaptipada range

Waterhole at Bhagabandh-Sarisua-Kaptipada range

00:52
Play Video

Several waterholes have been created at the trijunction of Balasore, Baripada, and Hardgarh in Odisha that serves as a critical habitat for elephants. The site is frequented by a herd of elephants, indicating that it holds significance for them. During the construction of waterholes, elephants continued to visit the area, leaving behind their footprints.

This trijunction likely boasts diverse ecological features, including a wide variety of vegetation and topography, contributing to the rich biodiversity and abundance of resources, making it an attractive habitat for elephants. VFAE partnered with Paribartan India to implement this critical project.

Meanwhile, the ground being prepared to plant approximately 20,000 saplings in the Pallahara and Balasore range for them to blossom during the 2023 rainy season, expected by mid-July. Thanks to our generous donors for their ongoing support to help us provide basic survival needs to these beleaguered elephants.

As the harsh summer envelops vast regions of India, with temperatures soaring up to 45 degrees Celsius or 113 Fahrenheit, water sources are drying up, pushing elephants out of the forests and into the villages, intensifying human elephant conflict, and leading to tragedies. By providing enough food and water resources inside the forests, elephants will hopefully remain inside the forests.

More than 80% of elephant habitats have been lost to reckless development to sustain humans - with the population in India at 1.41 billion as of this year, surpassing China, and earning the top spot for an overcrowded country.

The latest results of the EleSense device, aimed at preventing elephant deaths on the deadly Indian Railway. Our first key finding is, the sensor can detect elephants with a 100% accuracy. Between January and July 2023, EleSense has potentially saved more than 160 elephants.
 

  • 161 detections of elephants near railway tracks, potentially averting 161 accidents between January and July 2023. The signal transmitted by EleSense allowed enough time to inform elephant presence near railway tracks to the station masters, who relayed the message to the train pilots just in time to prevent a tragedy.

  • The module transmits information to the railway control room via SMS module from all the installed locations.

  • In collaboration with our grassroots partner, Nature Mates India in West Bengal, and our technology expert, SNAP Foundation we installed around 40 devices in our 1st phase.

  • At a joint workshop presided by our Founder, Sangita Iyer, stakeholders, including Railway, Forest Ministries, Tea-Estate Association, Police Dept., Media, and local NGOs, were appraised on how EleSense functions, while discussing the roles and responsibilities of all stakeholders.


We will soon be launching our second phase of the EleSense project. Thanks to our grassroots partner, Nature Mates India and our technical experts at SNAP Foundation. And most importantly, thanks to our generous donors for their generosity to save our precious elephants.

Saving Elephants from Deadly Train Tracks
​The Kerala Corridor Project

After four years of patient and diligent collaboration, strategic planning, and fundraising, VFAE recently purchased four acres of land from private owners inside the Nilambur forest of Kerala. The land, which had been converted to a plantation, is surrounded by reserve forest, a key habitat for a variety of wildlife, including elephants, tigers, and leopards. The area also forms part of the Nilambur Elephant Reserve and houses around 340 elephants. VFAE is now awaiting court documents enabling VFAE to transfer the land to the Kerala Forest Department to be rewilded and kept as a natural habitat in perpetuity. This rare public, governmental, and nongovernmental partnership exemplifies VFAE’s inclusive and collaborative approach to conservation, garnering media coverage that can be found on our news coverage page.

​Saving 500 Elephants from Electrocution
wbengal_03.jpg

Electrocution is the leading cause of death for Asian elephants in India. VFAE partnered with Nature Mates and SNAP to help replace illegal electric fencing in West Bengal with biofriendly repellant fences and elephant friendly solar fencing. There have been no elephant raids in the two villages that used the biofriendly repellent fence, and we are now expanding to a third village. We had installed solar fencing in two villages last year, and recently finished the installation in a third village, while conducting community outreach and awareness campaigns. This has significantly reduced HEC with no elephant or human deaths in the area. Given the outstanding success of the solar fencing, the West Bengal Forest Department has asked VFAE to expand the project to adjacent villages.

 

The settlements of the estate are surrounded by forests on all sides and hence the need to ensure the safety of the local communities as well as the free movement of elephants and other wildlife. More than 500 families can sleep well at night, as the risk of elephant entry inside the settlements has been alleviated. This in turn will also ensure local acceptance of elephants.

 

We also test tried a bio-friendly concoction which was poured into bottles with holes at the top, so the smell would deter elephants. The good news is, villagers and elephants are responding positively to our potent concoction. It is a cost-effective solution to averting elephant electrocution, now being implemented in the Panighatta Forest Village, Nirpani under Panighatta Range in West Bengal. 

 

In the 3000 Sq. Km area near the Gorumara National Park, where we’ve implemented such practical solutions, there hasn’t been a single elephant death caused by electrocution. It’s a win-win for people and elephants. Among other natural ingredients, our vegan formula contains chilly powder, garlic, cow dung, black salt (smells like rotten eggs), and other natural ingredients, aimed at deterring elephants from coming anywhere close to the farmland.

Champions to Feed Odisha Elephants

In partnership with the Wildlife Protection Society of India (WPSI), VFAE has grown and transplanted thousands of elephant-friendly saplings in an elephant habitat adjacent to an existing corridor, aiming to ensure a safe passage for Odisha elephants and create a forest rich in biodiversity. A total of 11,000 seedlings were reared and 90% have survived in their transplanted locations.

Barricades for Open Wells

In collaboration with the Wildlife Protection Society of India, VFAE constructed 100 T-shaped barricades for 100 dangerous wells of Odisha! Each large well required 10 to 25 barricades. There are thousands of open wells across India, and often times they are insidiously covered by the growth of shrubs. There’s no attempt to cover these wells across India on a state or national level. 

In Odisha alone, as of July 2023, there have been almost 75 incidents of elephants falling into wells, many of them turning fatal. A young elephant was rescued in July 2023, he was one of the few lucky ones, but it proves to be tragic for many elephants. As recently as November 3rd 2022, a female elephant died after falling into a well. Just imagine the amount of lives our barricades will be saving!!

Saving Odisha Elephants from Traffic Deaths
10. View of signboard fixed at the other end - Elephant Caution Signboards.JPG

VFAE partnered with WPSI to install large reflective billboards warning of highway elephant crossings in Odisha state. In addition, we have collaborated with Paribartan, another local NGO, to install laser devices that detect when an elephant is on the road and trigger brightly flashing, revolving red lights and a loud siren. This project has been embraced by the state forest authorities and received substantial publicity in national and regional newspapers.

Flash the Lights to Save Elephants of India
IMG_20210218_163330.jpg

In partnership with Nature Mates India, VFAE distributed thousands of solar rechargeable flashlights across 52 villages and tea plantations and reached out to more than 65 settlements (sub-villages) in West Bengal, while also conducting capacity building programs for villagers on avoiding unintentional nighttime encounters with elephants. Almost 4000 families have benefitted so far, impacting nearly 15,000 vulnerable people. To date, there have been no human or elephant deaths in the project area, as villagers are consistently employing their flashlights at night. As an additional benefit, deaths from snakebites have also decreased.

PROJECT Asian Elephants 101
corridor_35.jpg

Indian youth are not being educated on the risks to elephants and there are few wildlife and biodiversity conservation programs in schools. Instead, youth are being brainwashed to form ‘elephant clubs’ to promote the exploitation of elephants in the name of culture and religion. In 2019, VFAE held a groundbreaking youth empowerment program, involving in-class sessions, nature immersion, slow pedagogy, and other innovative methods to engage the youth. One hundred Kerala Student Police Cadets graduated and earned the certificate of ‘Elephant Ambassadors’. Impressed by the results, the Inspector General of Police has invited VFAE to expand the program in additional districts.

The Gentle Giant Summit
summit_12.jpg

The government ministries and relevant private stakeholders, such as electrical companies and railways, were working in silos, totally unaware of the unprecedented elephant deaths caused by train collisions and sagging wires resulting from poor maintenance. VFAE, in collaboration with the Kerala Forest Department, brought these entities and policy makers under one roof for the first time in history, to ensure legislative changes are holistic, inclusive, and well informed, reflecting the welfare of people and elephants. The success of this project has catapulted another summit in West Bengal.

Forgotten Elephants of Odisha
Odisha_3.jpg

Work has already begun in Odisha, with VFAE, in partnership with Wildlife Protection Society of India (WPSI), are leading a team of local conservationists to steer knowledge-driven elephant conservation actions in some of the most vulnerable regions of the state. One of the most important tasks is detecting live wires on the forest floor laid by poachers, in order to tackle wildlife crime.

Safe Passage for Elephants in West Bengal Tea Plantations