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Editorial of the Day (8th Mar): Kerala declares Man Animal Conflict a State specific Disaste

Context: The Kerala cabinet declared man-animal conflicts as a state-specific disaster in light of frequent life-threatening encounters, particularly with elephants.

There have been nine fatalities attributed to man-animal conflicts in Kerala in 2024.

Resolution Measures

Long-term Measures

  • Smart Elephant Fence: Installation of a smart fence to deter wild elephants from entering human habitation areas, aiming to reduce conflicts, particularly in Wayanad.
  • Undergrowth Removal in Estates: Clearing undergrowth in private estates to remove potential hiding spots for wildlife. Employment will be guaranteed for workers involved in this task.
  • Restoration of Natural Vegetation: This involves the removal of eucalyptus and acacia plantations and supporting the regeneration of native vegetation to enhance wildlife habitats.
  • Entry of Private Vehicles: Regulation on the entry of private vehicles into the forest area will be implemented to minimise disturbances to wildlife.

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Short-term Measures

  • Inter-State Committee Meetings: Coordination between states through committee meetings.
  • Command Control Centre: Setting up a Command Control Centre in Wayanad for better conflict management.
  • Early Warning System: Strengthening systems to alert residents about the potential presence of wild animals near human settlements.
  • Eradication of Senna Plants: Removing invasive senna plants that can disrupt local ecosystems and wildlife movements.
  • Fencing and Safety Measures: Erecting fences to prevent the entry of wild animals into areas of human habitation.
  • Drone Surveillance: Using drones to monitor wildlife movement and to provide early warnings to residents.
  • State Disaster Response Fund (SDRF): A State Government may use up to 10% of the funds available under the SDRF for providing immediate relief to the victims
  • Setting up of new protocols: Establishing new measures for tourism and wildlife interaction.
  • Eco-tourism Site Disclosure: Regulating eco-tourism destinations to prevent conflict and ensure conservation efforts are maintained.

Four-Level Monitoring System

  • State-Level Committee: Headed by the Chief Minister, this top-level committee includes other ministers to address the issue.
  • Second-Level Committee: Led by the chief secretary and comprising various department secretaries, including the state Disaster Management authority, to implement statewide directives.
  • District Level: District collectors will oversee district-level committees, which include forest officers and medical officials, to execute district-level actions.
  • Grassroots Level: Local vigilant committees, led by local civic body presidents, will take preemptive measures following district committee directives.

Reasons for such effort

  • The recurring man-animal conflicts highlight a pressing wildlife management challenge in Kerala.
  • The site of repeated wild gaur attacks, underscoring the tension between development and wildlife conservation.
  • Rising discontent among Kerala’s populace due to dangerous wildlife encounters and the government’s response to them.

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