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Protecting the safe passage of endangered elephants through the tea lands of India. 

Asian elephants are a wide-ranging species with an important ecological role: As mega-herbivores, these animals feed on a large variety of plants and disperse seeds throughout the forest in their droppings. 


They are also endangered globally, primarily due to habitat loss and human-elephant conflict related mortalities. 


While prime elephant habitats have been converted for agricultural use since the establishment of the tea industry in India in the mid-1800s, elephants continue to traverse ancient movement routes. Their paths often bring them in close contact with people -- especially in tea lands. Using tea gardens as rest stops, elephants move between foraging areas, and encounters between elephants and humans can turn dangerous and even deadly. Meanwhile, some practices used in tea production have proven to be harmful -- and sometimes deadly -- to elephants: Agrochemicals not stored, applied or disposed of properly can poison elephants; razor fencing can injure elephants; electrified fencing not properly installed and low hanging electrical lines can kill elephants; and deep, narrow drainage ditches can be difficult for juvenile elephants to cross, resulting in death or injury. Together, the impact of the tea industry on elephant populations has become a major contributing factor in their decline.  


In 2016, Lisa Mills facilitated a partnership between the University of Montana and the Wildlife Friendly Enterprise Network to create the Elephant Friendly™ Certification for tea gardens. Certified Elephant Friendly™ Tea is exclusively sourced from tea farms that meet high standards for the protection of elephants and the management of human-elephant conflict. These certified gardens eliminate risks to elephants from fencing and power lines, drainage ditches, and chemical poisonings, and aim to protect the endangered elephant and mitigate the impact of human activities on the globally endangered Asian elephant.  


To learn more about the standards and requirements for certification, read Our Certified Elephant Friendly™ Standards. 

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