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Conflict, Negotiation, and CoexistenceRethinking Human–Elephant Relations in South Asia$
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Piers Locke and Jane Buckingham

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9780199467228

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: November 2016

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199467228.001.0001

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The Human–Elephant Relationship through the Ages

The Human–Elephant Relationship through the Ages

A Brief Macro-Scale History

(p.31) 1 The Human–Elephant Relationship through the Ages
Conflict, Negotiation, and Coexistence

Raman Sukumar

Oxford University Press

This chapter provides a magisterial survey of human–elephant relations from prehistoric to modern times, considering encounters, intersections, and appropriations in a way that equally attends to both material existence and symbolic significance. It charts the sacred status and practical utilities of elephants for humans in a historical sequence that considers political relations, beliefs, and ideas, and material encounters. It explores the elephant as prey, as a weapon of war, symbol of imperial glory, colonial commodity, an endangered species, and as a captive individual, thereby introducing some of the topics and issues explored in further detail in subsequent chapters. Drawing on the author’s longstanding involvement with and expertise in understanding elephants, it also considers the challenges presented by the decline of elephant populations, the conditions of their captivity, the expertise for their management, and the possibilities for humans and elephants to learn to live well together.

Keywords:   Elephant hunting, Harappan civilization, Vedic people, Alexander of Macedon, Mauryan empire, Ganesha, Mughals, timber elephants, ivory poaching, elephant conservation

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