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Nuxulbari Tea Estate Becomes 2nd Globally to Earn Elephant Friendly™ Certification
Engaging tea growers as partners in elephant conservation is critical to the future of Asian elephants in the wild. Agricultural lands planted for tea production play a vital role as corridors of movement between natural areas. Tea plantations serve as nurseries where elephant mothers give birth and rest until their newborn babies are strong enough to move with the herd. However, agricultural practices on tea estates can present potential dangers for elephants. Drainage ditch hazards can trap elephants, especially juveniles. Improperly installed electric fencing can pose electrocution risks for elephants. Chemicals used in conventional tea production, if not stored securely or applied judiciously, can poison elephants. Blocking of elephant corridors with fencing or walls can disrupt age-old patterns of movements of elephant herds. Human-
Nuxalbari Tea Estate, established in 1884, has been within the same family for four generations with operations currently led by Sonia Jabbar, a fifth-generation tea planter, conservationist and single mother. "Elephants are living bodhisattvas,"
As a result of Ms. Jabbar's efforts Nuxalbari Tea Estate has become a haven for elephants as they move between shrinking fragments of forests in north Bengal. In order to reduce human-elephant conflict the estate's security guards are trained to maintain a 400-meter safe corridor for elephants to pass through unharmed. Other projects to promote biodiversity within the tea estate include the establishment of a 100-acre re-wilding project for native species including elephants. Ms. Jabbar leads a Hathi Sathi nature club for the children of tea workers to encourage a new generation of "Barefoot Conservationists."
"Elephant Friendly™ tea certification provides an opportunity for tea consumers to reward tea growers for changing practices that have negative impacts on elephant populations and enables companies to tell a story of coexistence to consumers," said WFEN Executive Director and co-founder Julie Stein, "and we are thrilled to welcome our first woman-owned certified tea grower into the Wildlife Friendly™ family of brands."
Lisa Mills, who serves as the liaison for the University of Montana on this project, explains: "We have completed a full year of testing the consumer market and have found that when Certified Elephant Friendly™ tea products are offered as a choice amongst otherwise similar quality products, consumers prefer knowing their dollars are making a difference for elephants. As of August 2018, more than 50 companies are carrying Certified Elephant Friendly™ tea products."
Since the early 1800's tea consumption has been on the rise, and today it is the most popular beverage worldwide. Tea plantations have replaced much of the natural habitat of Asian elephants and other species. Habitat loss and the associated human-elephant conflict, which often lead to loss of life for both people and elephants, have contributed significantly to the decline of Asian elephant populations. According to the IUCN Red List, Asian elephants, or Elephas maximus, are an endangered species, with an estimated 40,000-50,000 remaining across their range countries, a decline of over 50% in the last 75 years. India holds at least 50% of the remaining population and is the world's second largest tea producer, with tea lands primarily located in areas historically inhabited by elephants. By purchasing Elephant Friendly™ tea consumers are helping sustain wild elephant populations and to secure their future. Interested companies and consumers can learn more at http://elephantfriendlytea.com
About the Wildlife Friendly Enterprise Network WFEN represents grassroots farmers, ranchers, artisans, indigenous peoples and conservation heroes from around the world. Certified products contribute to the conservation of over twelve million hectares of diverse wetlands, forests, and grasslands; protect keystone endangered species in Asia, Africa, Europe, and Latin and North America and benefit over 200,000 people through increased food security, income and employment. For more information visit: www.wildlifefriendly.org
About the University of Montana The University of Montana (UM), located in Missoula, Montana, USA, is a higher education institution, home to the top ranked Wildlife Biology Program in North America and award-winning research, outreach and business innovation programs. The Elephant Friendly™ Program is a partnership between the University of Montana's Broader Impacts Group, the Wildlife Friendly Enterprise Network, and business and conservation science advisors from across the globe. The UM Blackstone Launchpad and UM School of Business provide additional planning and marketing support. For more information visit: https://www.umt.edu/