True Corporation Marks Thai Elephant Day on March 13: Elevates Human-Elephant Conflict Awareness with AI-Driven Monitoring and Advanced Warning System to Minimize Casualties

13 March 2024

Elephants are the national animal of Thailand and are protected as wildlife. While many of us may be familiar with elephants, particularly in urban areas, some may not realize that a continuous and longstanding conflict exists between humans and elephants in the forested and border regions of Thailand.


It is undeniable that human habitation and agriculture, which are vital for livelihoods, have led to a decrease in forested areas. As these areas shrink, so do the food sources for elephants, driving them to venture into human-inhabited zones. This encroachment often results in damage to life and property, leading to the Human-Elephant Conflict (HEC)—a significant challenge in many countries around the world with wild elephant populations, including both Africa and Asia. According to BBC report, elephants kill 600 humans annually, ranking them as the eighth deadliest animal to humans globally.


The International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) reports significant annual losses due to these conflicts: about 200 wild elephants in Sri Lanka, approximately 100 in India, and around 120 in Kenya. Moreover, these conflicts also pose a serious threat to human lives, with around 400 human fatalities annually in India and approximately 200 in Kenya from 2010 to 2017.


In recognition of Thai Elephant Day on March 13th, True Corporation, a leading telecom-tech company in Thailand, highlights the critical coexistence of Thai people and wild elephants. They leverage high-speed internet technologies, such as 5G, 4G, and AI, to manage the Human-Elephant Conflict (HEC) through the Elephant Smart Early Warning System. This initiative, in partnership with the Department of National Parks, Wildlife, and Plant Conservation, and WWF Thailand, has been active in the Kuiburi National Park in Prachuap Khiri Khan province since 2018. Reports indicate that the Smart Early Warning system has successfully reduced agricultural damages, as well as loss of human and elephant lives and community property, by monitoring the forest habitats of Thai elephants and addressing related issues effectively.”

Statistics on the "Human-Elephant Conflict" Arise from Spatial Limitations

Data from the Department of National Parks indicates that in 2022, wild elephants were dispersed across 69 conservation areas, encompassing 38 national parks and 31 wildlife sanctuaries. However, elephants encroached beyond the boundaries in 49 of these areas, leading to conflicts.


Reflecting on the past six years, the impact of these conflicts on humans has been significant, including 116 injuries and 135 fatalities – a surprisingly high statistic that many did not foresee.


It is essential to recognize that a core issue contributing to these conflicts is the inadequate size of habitats or forests for the approximately 4,000 wild elephants. Given that wild elephants require large territories, it is inevitable that the available forest areas are insufficient to meet their needs when the habitat size does not match the elephant population. This pressing issue demands immediate attention.

In areas experiencing acute problems with elephants straying from forests, requiring prompt solutions—such as the border regions of five provinces and wildlife sanctuaries like Kaeng Krachan National Park, Phu Luang Wildlife Sanctuary, Loei province, and Khao Luang National Park in Nakhon Si Thammarat province—strategies must be devised.


The conflict between humans and wild elephants is a global issue, not unique to Thailand, affecting regions where humans and elephants coexist.


Therefore, developing solutions to this problem is crucial not only for Thailand. If successful, these strategies could serve as a model for management and knowledge sharing with other impacted regions worldwide.


5G, 4G, and AI Technologies Aid in Reducing Conflicts Mr. Praparnpong Maknuan, Head of the TruePlooypanya Department at True Corporation, said, “From a private sector perspective, True Corporation has collaborated with the Department of National Parks, Wildlife and Plant Conservation, and the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) Thailand. Together, we have utilized 5G and 4G communication technologies, IoT systems, and AI to develop early warning systems and establish wild elephant monitoring centers aimed at reducing conflicts.”

Mr. Veerasak Pongtanyavichai, Head of Innovation Center Department at True Corporation, revealed that the starting point for analyzing technology challenges in problem-solving revolves around four main aspects: 1. Real-time capabilities, 2. Artificial Intelligence (AI), and 3. Network Solution & 5G coverage, including the 4. Internet of Things. She explained, “The essence of the problem is that we do not know the exact movement or direction of elephants’ whereabouts, their raiding times, or only discovering these incidents too late, leading to loss of life and property. Hence, technology capable of identifying locations and reporting incidents in real time is vital.” True has integrated the strengths of high-speed internet network systems with camera traps to address this issue effectively.

The operation of the early warning system involves cameras equipped with SIM cards that detect movement and transmit 5G /4G signals via True’s network to a cloud system. The Kajanurak app, powered by AI technology, is highly effective in identifying elephant figures with great precision, as these cameras can capture motion from various sources, including humans and other animals. At this stage, AI filters the data before alerting the staff at the elephant monitoring center, which then communicates the latest elephant sighting information to elephant conservation units or village representatives responsible for elephant conservation through the Kajanurak app. This efficient process aids in reducing conflicts and promoting coexistence between humans and wild elephants.


Regarding comprehensive area coverage and improved monitoring outcomes, Mr. Praparnpong added, “Following the success of the early warning system project for wild elephants at Kuiburi National Park, True has expanded its application to address conflicts between humans and wild elephants in areas with significant conflict. This includes forest areas adjacent to five provinces in the eastern region under Kajanurak Project covering Chachoengsao, Chanthaburi, Rayong, Chonburi, and Sa Kaeo provinces.”


True has installed cameras at all 36 locations in these areas, upgrading signal poles to improve communication coverage. They have also established an elephant monitoring operation center within the Khao Ang Ruenai Wildlife Sanctuary in Chachoengsao Province to support the Department of National Parks, Wildlife and Plant Conservation, as well as communities in the five provinces facing continuous human-elephant conflict issues. Additionally, in collaboration with the Computer Science Faculty of Ramkhamhaeng University, True is integrating AI technology into the Smart Early Warning System to help filter elephant image files, addressing data storage limitations in mail server systems and improving the efficiency of elephant identification data collection, ultimately enhancing disaster warning capabilities.”

The project for monitoring wild elephants with an early warning system, initiated in 2018, has significantly improved the efficiency of elephant conservation unit staff’s tasks. In 2023, according to a performance report from Kuiburi National Park, 1,104 incidents of wild elephant intrusion were detected, resulting in agricultural damage only four times. This marks a success rate of 99.61% in preventing damage, a notable improvement from the previous year. The data from the warning system demonstrate its effectiveness in guiding elephants back to the forest, thereby reducing damages by almost 100%.


True Corporation has been at the forefront of this project, aiming to mitigate conflicts between humans and wild elephants and address challenges in various regions. The project has garnered significant recognition, receiving an honorary plaque from the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment and gold medals from the Silicon Valley International Invention Festival. It is celebrated as a globally beneficial initiative by the International Federation of Inventors Associations (IFIA) and Geneva’s Exhibition and Congress Center (PALEXPO) in the United States, underscoring the project’s substantial societal contributions.


However, beyond immediate problem-solving, the importance of long-term prevention should not be overlooked. This encompasses efforts to develop natural food and water sources, create suitable habitats, enhance biodiversity in conservation forests, manage buffer zones for both humans and elephants, and develop communities. These actions are critical for fostering understanding and cooperation, thus promoting sustainable coexistence between humans and wild elephants.