Human animal conflict, a real threat India cannot ignore
Bengaluru, July 08: As human populations expand and natural habitats shrink, people and animals are increasingly coming into conflict over living space and food.
Over 2,000 people in India were killed by elephants while tigers claimed over 200 lives in the last five years, according to data provided by the government.
This does not include elephants 60 were killed in the last three years and five this year till June 20.
While more than 32,000 animals, including cattle, elephants, lions and leopards, have been killed on railway tracks in the past three years.
And earlier this week, on July 2, a leopard hiding in Dehradun's Shrinagar Medical College building for two days was shot dead after it attacked a group of forest department personnel struggling to capture it.
Why is this conflict increasing?
There are many reasons human population explosion, shrinking forest cover, poaching, rapid and unplanned urbanisation, which entails electrification penetrating into forest areas, increasing road density, destruction of natural animal corridors, agricultural expansion and cultivation up to forest boundaries.
Wildlife activist Ajay Dubey blames rampant urbanisation by humans who are encroaching into forest areas, the wild animals natural habitat.
Our development ventures are adversely affecting the green cover thereby disturbing the natural ecological balance, Dubey said.
Lack of grass cover results in decreasing number of herbivores, which means a decrease in the prey base of these wild animals, he added.
According to data by Wildlife Protection Society of India (WPSI), at least 500 leopards were either killed or died of other reasons in 2018.
Just because they (animals) cannot speak does not mean they don't have rights. It is because of our urbanisation that they are losing on their natural habitats. We are the ones encroaching, Dubey said.
The burgeoning human population has put pressure on wild habitat. This leads to conflict and unfortunately death on both sides. With training in dealing with these situations we can try and reduce mortality but in most cases fear leads to extreme reactions, she told PTI.
Nath said the primary step towards coexistence is sensitisation.
People need to learn to make way for the animal. Remove children from the vicinity. Ensure pets are indoors. Wild animals must be encouraged to pass through and not harassed or tormented. People must not mob them to get photographs. No stone throwing, no hitting with sticks, she said.
The government has come up with some policies to grapple with the problem: The compensation for human deaths has been increased from Rs 2.5 lakh to Rs 5 lakh; Project Elephant and National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA) guidelines have been issued to mitigate the conflict; and immune-contraception has been introduced in order to control the population of nilgai, monkeys and wild boars.