- Recently, Ashwini Kumar Choubey, Minister of State for Forest, Environment and Climate Change recently informed about Human-Animal Conflict and various Tigers, Elephants and People that killed in these conflicts.
- Minister also informed that as a result of concerted efforts made for protection and conservation of wildlife, the population of several wildlife species like Tigers, Elephants, Asiatic Lion, Rhino etc. in the country has increased.
What is Human-wildlife Conflict?
- Human-wildlife conflict (HWC) refers to struggles that arise when the presence or behaviour of wildlife poses actual or perceived direct, recurring threats to human interests or needs, often leading to disagreements between groups of people and negative impacts on people and/or wildlife.
- Between 2018-19 and 2020-21, 222 elephants were killed by electrocution across the country, 45 by trains, 29 by poachers and 11 by poisoning.
- Among the 222 elephant deaths caused by electrocution, Odisha accounted for 41, Tamil Nadu for 34 and Assam for 33.
- Odisha (12 out of 45) also had the highest number of elephant deaths caused by trains, followed by West Bengal (11) and Assam (9).
- Poaching deaths were highest in Meghalaya (12 out of 29) while poisoning deaths were highest in Assam (9 out of 11, including 8 in 2018-19 alone).
Human Casualties by Elephants
- Among human casualties of conflict with animals, elephants killed 1,579 humans in three years — 585 in 2019-20, 461 in 2020-21, and 533 in 2021-22.
- Among tigers, too, 29 were killed by poaching between 2019 and 2021, while 197 tiger deaths are under scrutiny.
- For tiger deaths caused by human activity, the Lok Sabha reply did not provide a state-wise break-up.
Human Casualties by Tigers
- Tigers killed 125 humans in reserves between 2019 and 2021. Maharashtra accounted for nearly half these deaths, at 61.
Major Reasons : Escalation of human-wildlife conflict
- Human population growth
- land use transformation
- habitat loss of wild species
- degradation and fragmentation, growing interest in ecotourism
- increasing access to nature reserves
- increasing livestock populations and competitive exclusion of wild herbivores
- abundance and distribution of wild prey
- increasing wildlife population as a result of conservation programmes
- climatic factors and stochastic events.
- Movement of wild animals from forests area to human dominated landscapes for food and fodder,
- Movement of human beings to forests for illegal collection of forest produce,
- Habitat degradation due to growth of invasive alien species, etc.
- Injury and loss of life of humans and wildlife, crop damage, livestock depredation, predation of managed wildlife stock, damage to human property, destruction of habitat, the collapse of wildlife populations and reduction of geographic range.
- Surveillance: Increased vigilance and protection of identified locations using hi-tech surveillance tools like sensors can help in tracking the movement of animals and warn the local population.
- Improvement of habitat: In-situ and ex-situ habitat conservation measures will help in securing animals their survival.
- Translocation of problematic animals: Relocating supposed “problem” animals from a site of conflict to a new place is a mitigation technique used in the past, although recent research has shown that this approach can have detrimental impacts on species and is largely ineffective.
- Training programs: Training to the police offices and local people should be provided for this purpose and the forest department should frame guidelines.
- Boundary walls: The construction of boundary walls and solar fences around the sensitive areas to prevent the wild animal attacks.
Existing government policies
- 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.
- Immune-contraception has been introduced in order to control the population of nilgai, monkeys and wild boars.
- In Sonitpur district in Assam, destruction of forests had forced elephants to raid crops, in turn causing deaths of both, elephants and humans.
- In response, WWF India had developed the ‘Sonitpur Model’ during 2003-2004 by which community members were connected with the state forest department.
- They were given training on how to work with them to drive elephants away from crop fields safely.
- WWF India had also developed a low-cost, single strand, non-lethal electric fence to ease the guarding of crops from elephants.
- Afterwards, crop losses dropped to zero for four years running. Human and elephant deaths also reduced significantly.
Question: A sandy and saline area is the natural habitat of an Indian animal species. The animal has no predators in that area but its existence is threatened due to the destruction of its habitat. Which one of the following could be that animal ?
(a) Indian wild buffalo
(b) Indian wild ass
(c) Indian wild boar