MAN WILDLIFE CONFLICT
Human–wildlife conflict refers to the interaction between wild animals and people and the resultant negative impact on people or their resources, or wild animals or their habitat. It occurs when growing human populations overlap with established wildlife territory, creating reduction of resources or life to some people and/or wild animals. Conflict between people and animals is one of the main threats to the continued survival of many species in different parts of the world, and is also a significant threat to local human populations. If solutions to conflicts are not adequate, local support for conservation also declines. Human-wildlife conflict is a serious obstacle to wildlife conservation worldwide and is becoming more prevalent as human populations increase, development expands, the global climate changes and other human and environmental factors put people and wildlife in greater direct competition for a shrinking resource base.
Improving our responses to human-wildlife conflict requires greater consultation not only among wildlife professionals and between their organizations, but also with economic and social development organizations, land use planners, agribusiness, and other key decision makers. Successful responses to conservation conflicts frequently require individual professionals to reach outside their own disciplines for needed tools, skills and perspectives. Interdisciplinary collaboration, as well as collaboration between sectors, is critical to improving the understanding of underlying causes needed to shift the emphasis from reactive mitigation of conflict to proactive prevention strategies.
The Human-Wildlife Conflict Collaboration (HWCC) is pioneering efforts to facilitate collaborative learning among diverse partners so that we may improve our collective ability to address the root causes of conservation conflicts. HWCC is unique in that it provides a neutral global forum upon which to convene the individuals, institutions and sectors working on, or affected by, conflict in conservation. Through this forum and our collaborative work, we will help wildlife professionals and key decision makers shift our efforts from a reactive mitigation of human-wildlife conflict to a proactive, prevention of all conservation conflicts.
The Creating Co-existence workshop at the 5th Annual World Parks Congress defined human-wildlife conflict as :“Human-wildlife conflict occurs when the needs and behavior of wildlife impact negatively on the goals of humans or when the goals of humans negatively impact the needs of wildlife.” Nature of human-wildlife conflicts
As human population extends to wild animal habitats, natural wildlife territory is displaced. The population density of wildlife and humans overlaps increasing their interaction thus resulting in increased physical conflict. Byproducts of human existence offer un-natural opportunity for wildlife in the form of food and shelter, resulting in increased interference and potentially destructive threat for both man and animals.
Various forms of human–wildlife conflict occur with various negative results. Some of these are: Animal deaths
Damage to property
Destruction of habitat
Injuries to people
Injuries to wildlife
Loss of human life, such as by Tiger attack
Information on man-wildlife conflicts in Kerala during the period 1983-93 were collected from the office records of the Divisional Forest Offices and by Visiting areas from where man-wildlife conflicts were reported. Cattle lifting was mainly due to Panther (Panthera pardus) Tiger (Panthera tigris) and Wild Dog (Cuon alpinus). Eighty nine cattle lifting cases were reported during the period. Thirty one human deaths and 64 injury cases were also reported, mostly due to Elephants. Out of the total compensation claimed for cattle lifting only 20% was disbursed and only 14% were disbursed for human casualties. Electric fences using energizers may solve the problem temporarily.
Resettling of villagers from inside the forest areas is also advisable. The southern state of Karnataka has got some of the most pristine forests in Western Ghats spanning the districts of North Kanara, Dharwad, Belgaum, Shimoga, Udupi, Mangalore, Chikmagalur, Hassan, Madikeri, Mysore and Chamrajnagar. The forests in these districts are quite rich in wild life as can be expected, the most notable wildlife in these forests being Elephants, Tigers, Leopards among other animals. In the drier tracts of these and other districts where the topography is mostly plains with scattered rocky outcrops of hills the wildlife consists of Bear, Black bucks and Leopards. The difference is only in the extent of damages and the number of lives lost.
The problem of Man – Elephant conflict is more severe in the districts of Hassan and Madikeri where large herds of elephants can be seen roaming and marauding the farms especially in or near the forest areas damaging the valuable agricultural crops. At times there have been loss of human lives which only accentuates the problem taking this conflict to an entirely new level. Naturally people can tolerate the loss of agricultural crops but not the loss of their family members. But then who is responsible for all this? It is we who have intruded into their territory, converting the forests into agricultural farms, growing crops and inviting the elephants to our doorsteps to come and have their stomach fill. Its we who have fragmented their habitat by making roads, dams and canals.
We have honeycombed their habitat by our so called developmental activities eating into their homelands and this appetite of ours for their areas is only increasing day by day with the bulging human population. The elephants in these areas seem to have a very peculiar habit. First they have their stomach fill. After that they roam around in search of arrack which is usually being distilled in local bhatties. The arrack or the distil waste gives them a nice kick and these drunken elephants are responsible for the loss of human lives. The tools employed by the forest department like bursting of crackers, gunshots or fire torches are too primitive to stop or scare away the marauding pack of drunken elephants.
The Man-Leopard conflict is more visible in the transition zone between dry plain lands and the green hilly areas. In the Chikmagalur district it is more a problem in the dry taluqa of Kadur particularly bordering villages of Kadur and Chikmagalur taluqa where the dry tract ends. Kadur is the place which earned a bad name for it about 10 years back. It was here where large number of panthers had to be shot and killed by employing and bringing so called sharp shooters from all over the state in search of an illusive so called man-eater panther. The end result of all this hunting spree was that every day and night several panthers were shot and brought to the post mortem table, post mortem was carried out and the killed panther was declared innocent as no human remains could be detected inside till finally some human hair remnants were detected in one and then only this shooting spree came to a halt.
It is debatable whether it was really required to kill such a large number of panthers which is an endangered species but perhaps the department had no means to identify the errant panther and hence large number of panthers had to be killed in search of that illusive wayward one. Moreover at times one is driven by the urge to be seen as trying his best. Probably this urge opened the floodgates and gradually people took the law into their own hands thinking that why to wait for the forest department when they can themselves teach panthers a lesson. Same happened some time back. A family of a mother panther and its two grown up cubs was seen in the vicinity of a village. They hunted a calf and ate it partially before they were chased away by the villagers. Once they left, the carcass of the calf was nicely poisoned. When the mother and the cub returned unsuspectingly next day, they consumed the remains and in the process died themselves.
Leopards by nature tend to stray into the habitations in search of their kill. Their natural prey is becoming rare in the forests and the omnipresent cattle and dogs in the vicinity of the villages on the periphery of forest brings them in close conflict of the human beings. In some other areas also few panthers have had to lose their lives being caught in the snares. These snares are fixed in the barbed wire fence of coffee estates, not necessarily by the estate owners but at times by their labour in order to catch wild boars or smaller animals. However it is the panthers and Sambars who have had to pay the price with their lives for their adventure in to the estates.
The Man- Tiger conflicts are by and large restricted to the high forests and the coffee estates in the vicinity of forests in Chikmagalur district. These conflicts also arise due to depredation by tigers on the cattle or getting entangled in the snares fixed in the fencings of the estates. Few tigers have been killed due to such snares.
In Chikmagalur, Hassan, Kodagu and other Western Ghat districts Coffee plantations are an integral part of the topography. The conditions available in the coffee estates make them very close to look like forest. Presence of cattle in such areas makes them ideal hunting grounds for the tigers and leopards bringing them in direct conflict with the villagers. Moreover there are large number of authorized and unauthorized muzzle loading guns available making it very difficult for the wild life to survive.
Primary reason for all these conflicts is fragmentation of the wild habitat. Whereas few patches have been brought under the Conservation network by declaring them as National Parks or Sanctuaries, about 85-90% of the forest areas are still outside this network. While there can be no doubt that establishing this network has contributed significantly to wildlife conservation. But real problem is that even these networks are also fragmented. Whereas total concentration in these parks and sanctuaries is on wildlife protection making the conditions ideal for wildlife, but what about the wildlife staying in forest areas outside these networks. Wildlife knows no boundaries.
Creation of ideal conditions in sanctuaries has helped wildlife to multiply rapidly but where is the additional habitat required to take care of the additional population of animals, which tries to flow over to the adjoining areas only to get killed. This is particularly so with regard to the wild animals having territorial tendencies. There is need to have a continuous conservation network with sufficient area and resources to take care of the progeny. Right now almost no effort is being made to take up wild life related management works outside the parks and sanctuaries. The lands outside the parks and sanctuaries (even inside also) are constantly under threat of encroachment. Honeycombing of the forestlands has already reached extreme.
The tools employed by the government in reducing the Man and Wildlife Conflicts are highly insufficient and hence not producing desired results. If we think that paying a few hundred or thousands Rupees to a person as compensation for crop damages by elephants or for a cattle killed by a leopard or tiger would save our wildlife from getting poisoned or shot, then it is nothing but our shortsightedness.
Even this so-called wildlife compensation is paid to him after making innumerable trips to the concerned office. The farmer has to forego his earnings for each day he has to visit the office, he has to pay from his pocket for the bus charge and has to undergo physical strain ……. And what he gets is just few hundred rupees. Such hardships discourage him and in the process he gets encouraged to take the law into his own hands and to settle scores with his tormentor- the wildlife. There are only losers on both the sides.
The Forest officials are also at times not acting in tandem. There is no coordination among the adjoining units. Particularly in case of elephant herds movements between the adjoining units it can be seen. Everybody wants to drive away the herds to another adjoining unit without giving any thought. It only complicates the problems.
Need of the hour is to have a stock of the real problem. And then only solutions can be found. We tend to take each problem in a routine manner. There is a tendency to leave the things to lower subordinates. The powers that be have to take everybody into confidence, discuss the issue threadbare and then have to take a conscious decision. A conscious policy decision need not be essentially sweet and liked by all but it may herald a new era where people and wildlife both can coexist beneficially.
How would you react to an elephant in your backyard or a bear in your garden? As human populations expand and natural habitats shrink, people and animals are increasingly coming into conflict over living space and food.
From baboons in Namibia attacking young cattle, to greater one-horned rhinos in Nepal destroying crops, to orangutans in oil palm plantations, to European bears and wolves killing livestock – the problem is universal, affects rich and poor, and is bad news for all concerned.
The impacts are often huge.
People lose their crops, livestock, property, and sometimes their lives. The animals, many of which are already threatened or endangered, are often killed in retaliation or to ‘prevent’ future conflicts.
What are the reason for conflict between man and animals?
The main reason is that man, unlike other animals change the environment around him instead of adjusting himself according to the environment. By doing this he disturbes other animals, with knowing and without knowing .Thus he creates a conflict.
Human beings think that they have a right to control everything (a scientifically given or a god given right) That is because the power of thought he posseses. And because he is the most intelligent being on earth.
But unlike human beings animals do not posses a power of thought, thus they with out thinking or knowing block the path of humans. Even a cat stealing a fish from a kitchen is a conflict, yet the cat only hope to fulfill its need of food not to steal it away.
Another reason is increasing of development of physical things made by human beings. The human population is high because he knoes the way to heal, thus the need of land is high both for cultivation and living.Many animals have lost their home lands so they go serching for lands in human habitat areas. In many countries it is a big issue because animals such as Elephants do not only barge into villages but destroy crops and even lives on their way.
The final big issue is environment pollution and global warming. And this causes some animals especially those who cannot maintain body temperature according to need (such as fish) have become extinct and are becoming extinct.This may look as a mear happening of the pollution and global warming. How come an animal in Africa who’ve become extinct effect someone in America or Asia?
Yet it does effect because as you know Planet earth is a system.
Potential solutions to these conflicts include electric fencing, land use planning, community-based natural resource management (CBNRM), compensation, payment for environmental services, ecotourism, wildlife friendly products, or other field solutions. In efforts to reduce human-wildlife conflict, World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) has partnered with a number of organizations to provide solutions around the globe. Their solutions are tailored to the community and species involved. For example, in Mozambique, communities started to grow more chili pepper plants after making the discovery that elephants dislike and avoid plants containing capsaicin. This creative and effective method prevents elephants from trampling community farmers’ fields as well as protects the species.