Running Time: 52 minutes, Format: HD 1080P, Completed: 2011

Venerated as a god
as an enemy

What is Human Elephant Conflict?

For thousands of years, across Asia, humans and elephants have lived side by side in a relatively peaceful coexistence. That relationship is now being threatened due to increasing human populations and loss of elephant habitats. Elephants and humans are being forced to compete for resources, a problem that has been defined as Human-Elephant-Conflict. This predicament poses a serious threat to the elephant's continued existence. While this is a widespread concern all across Asia and Africa, it is nowhere more apparent than in the small island of Sri Lanka.

elephant walking

Significance of the elephant

“An object of worship, a target of hunters, a beast of burden, a burden to the people, gentle in captivity, dangerous in the wild, the pride of kings, the companion of mahouts, a machine of war, an envoy of peace, loved, feared and hated, the elephant has had a glorious and an infamous association with man in Asia. For its sheer contrast and splendor, this association is unequaled by any other interaction between animal and man in the world.” Raman Sukumar

About the film

Common Ground is a feature documentary that explores the ancient relationship between humans and elephants in Sri Lanka. We discover how years of civil war and an expanding human population has affected that long-standing association. Very few animals on this planet are regarded both as an object of worship and as an enemy. The Asian Elephant is now defined by this paradox. As the total number of elephants in the wild continues to plummet, conservationists are developing some innovative solutions to preserve this legendary animal.

Filming in post-war Sri Lanka

We started filming Common Ground a few months after the official end to the 26 year long civil war. It was a fascinating time to be in Sri Lanka, and we were given access to areas that had recently seen major battles between the LTTE and government forces. During the war, conducting any kind of surveys about human elephant conflict would have been impossible. This is a first glimpse at some of those areas.

Watch the trailer

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