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Human-wildlife conflict

  • IASbaba
  • February 27, 2020
  • 0
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Environment

Topic: General Studies 3:

  • Conservation, environmental pollution and degradation, environmental impact assessment. 


Human-wildlife conflict

Context

Death of four tigers in Mhadei, Goa, and the arrest of the locals who poisoned the animals after their complaints were not attended by forest authorities

As a result, CM of Goa stated to demarcate and fence the borders of the wildlife sanctuaries in order to end 80 per cent of the problem. Although the intentions are good, this isn’t a solution.

Some examples of human-wildlife conflict include:

  • Predation on livestock or domestic animals by wild animals
  • Damage to crops and fences
  • Wildlife strewing about residential garbage
  • Vehicle/wildlife collisions, aircraft/bird collisions
  • Damage caused by squirrels or bats to fruit and fruit trees
  • Bird nesting in undesirable residential locations

Reasons for man-animal conflict:

  • Expansion of human settlements into forests – expansion of cities, industrial areas, railway/road infrastructure, tourism etc.
  • Allowing livestock to graze in forest areas
  • Land use transformations such as change from protected forest patches to agricultural and horticultural lands and monoculture plantations are further destroying the habitats of wildlife.
  • Unscientific structures and practices of forest management in the country
  • Infestation of wildlife habitat by invasive exotic weeds leads to decreased availability of edible grasses for wild herbivores
  • Decreased prey base caused by poaching of herbivores has also resulted in carnivores moving out of forests in search of prey and to indulge in cattle lifting.

India’s Conservation culture

  • Despite a billion people India still has most of our large wildlife species- India today has the largest population of the tiger, Asian elephant, leopard, sloth bear, gaur and many others
  • Part of Culture: People have accepted coexistence of human & animals, and incorporated it in our culture. All our deities have animals associated with them; it shows the inclusion of these animals in our mind space.
  • The Velip community in Goa worship the tigers and this practice is done even today.
  • Animals are viewed also as renewable resource: Unlike activities such as mining, tigers are a renewable resource. They are always going to be there, and so will the rivers and the forests, giving the local people income and development — as long as there are tigers.

Fencing is not the solution but alternative measures like:

  • Inclusion of local community in forest wildlife management
  • To ensure that money which comes in through tourism (of Tiger reserves) should be used for the development of the local villages as has been done in Tadoba tiger reserve, Maharashtra
  • Also, compensation procedures need to be improved- In Maharashtra, a decade ago, the compensation amount was poor, and the process was cumbersome as well as time consuming. Today, a helpline has been established, compensation rates have increased vastly, and the process is under the Right to Services Act

Conclusion

The solutions are simple: Inclusive development with a long-term vision that cares for the environment. We need to involve local communities who will be the custodians of the tigers and tigers who can, in turn, provide the communities much-needed development in such remote areas.

Did You know about these Innovative practices to minimise man-animal conflicts ?

  • In the Western Ghats of India, a new conservation initiative has utilized texting as an early warning system to prevent human-elephant encounters. Elephant tracking collars embedded with SMS chips automatically text nearby residents, warning them of recent elephant movements.
  • In Canada, authorities have constructed wildlife corridors, areas of preserved native habitat in human dominated regions, providing wildlife with a safe pathway as they travel between one to another.
  • To keep elephants at a safe distance from their farms and homes, some African villagers have turned to two unlikely, all-natural solutions: bees and hot peppers. Elephants dislike the chemical capsaicin found in chili peppers, prompting farmers in Tanzania to smother their fences with a mixture of oil and chili peppers.

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