Paul Keil awarded scholarship to study Human-Elephant conflict in North-East India


Macquarie University student Paul Keil will travel to North- East India in 2014 to research human-elephant conflict (HEC) in the state of Assam, as part of his winning application for the Prime Minister’s Australia Asia Endeavour Awards (Postgraduate Scholarship).

Keil, a Higher Degree Research student, supervised by Dr Greg Downey from the Department of Anthropology, will concentrate on the growing problem of HEC, which can take the form of herds raiding crops, train and elephant collisions, and the loss of human and pachyderm life. HEC is often the product of environmental encroachment and mismanagement on both state and local level.

“I am privileged to receive the PM Endeavour award, as it affords me an opportunity to increase the depth of my ethnographic research. This project will analyse the cultural, political and ecological factors that mediate entanglements between human and elephant communities,” said Keil.

“As a subject it touches upon a range of global environmental problems such as the depletion of ecosystem and biological diversity due to forest depredation, as a result of development. Learning to understand how to co-exist with other animals outside and on the fringes of our domestic sphere is of fundamental importance.”

Keil’s fieldwork in India will be hosted by the Indian Institute of Technology, Guwahati, and will be affiliated with Associate Professor Arupjyoti Saikia, an historian and expert in the relationship between politics and ecology.

“Macquarie University is thrilled for Paul Keil for winning this prestigious award that will help drive his research career not only on campus, but in such an exciting new learning environment,” said Professor Sakkie Pretorius, Macquarie University Deputy Vice- Chancellor for Research.

“His research will allow Australia and India to combine our expertise in this area of humanelephant conflict, to develop positive outcomes for the communities in North East India, both human and pachyderm.”

The Prime Minister’s Australia Asia Outgoing Postgraduate Award provides financial support for Australian students to undertake study or research in Asia towards their Australian postgraduate qualification, at Masters or PhD level either by coursework or research, in any field of study.

Award Holders have the opportunity to enrich their academic experience through exposure to unique education systems, teaching expertise and comparative perspectives while studying in distinctive locations or undertaking collaborative research at leading universities in Asia.

A full list of 2014 Endeavor Scholarship and Fellowship recipients is available on the Australian Government Department of Education website.

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