Project to help reduce human-animal conflict - GulfToday

Project to help reduce human-animal conflict

Meena Janardhan

Writer/Editor/Consultant. She has over 25 years of experience in the fields of environmental journalism and publishing.

Human-Animal Conflict In India

India’s rising human population is putting a burden on the country’s natural resources and wildlife.

Indian Union Environment Minister Prakash Javadekar recently released LiDAR-based reports mapping out the water requirement within forest areas in 10 states.

The LiDAR (light detection and ranging) technology was used to create 3-D images of the project areas to recommend soil and water conservation structures. The surveys were carried out at forest areas in Assam, Bihar, Chhattisgarh, Goa, Jharkhand, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Manipur, Nagaland, and Tripura.

Javadekar said these reports will be used to augment groundwater in forest areas so that animals don’t venture out in search of water. He added that the project was “a first of its kind and a unique experiment using LiDAR technology which will help augment water and fodder in jungles areas thereby reducing human-animal conflict’’.

“The survey will help us in identifying areas which need groundwater recharge which will in turn help local communities. We have partnered with 26 states to pilot this project,” he said.

Ministry officials have said that four more states will submit their surveys by July 15th, while the rest will submit their reports by September. The soil and water conservation structures will help in catching rainwater and prevent stream run-off, which will help in recharging groundwater, said officials.

With the participation of State Forest Departments, the project has identified one major ridge inside a forest block in these states with average area of 10,000 ha selected in each state for preparation of detailed project reports for planning and identifying locations and structures for construction of appropriate and feasible micro soil and water conservation structures consistent with site specific geography, topography and soil characteristics.

The criteria was that area selected should have average rainfall of the state, and the area requires assisted natural generation which means the density of forests should be less than 0.4 or below, but should have reasonable potential to regenerate with the interventions. The LiDAR technology has been found to have 90% accuracy.

As the Wildlife Protection Society of India points out India’s rising human population and mega development projects, are continuously putting a burden on the country’s natural resources and wildlife. Forests are becoming more and more fragmented, wildlife corridors are fast disappearing and villages, fields and cities are increasingly encroaching into practically every natural eco-system.

This has led to a rise in human-animal conflicts, be it with elephants in the west and northeast, monkeys in urban and rural areas, or wolves and leopards in most states where the species are found. Conflicts with carnivores have resulted in many human casualties and in turn animals like leopards and wolves are being targeted by local populations and killed in substantial numbers.

Human-animal conflict is one of the biggest challenges for India’s wildlife conservation efforts. For example, India is home to the world’s largest population of endangered Asian elephants. For years, human-elephant conflict has increased – elephants kill about 500 people in India every year. According to conservationists, it is a direct reflection of their shrinking habitat, leading them into more contact with humans.

A study by the Centre for Wildlife Studies says that in India, thousands of people live around India’s wildlife reserves and experience conflict in the form of crop and property damage, livestock predation, and human injury and death. It has been estimated that state governments spend approximately $5 million annually to compensate for wildlife-related damages to property and life. The average payment for human death due to wildlife was $3234. This is quite low when compared to other countries such as Kenya ($50,000).

The World Wide Fund for Nature states that around the world, as communities expand, and natural wild places are reduced, people and wildlife are increasingly coming into conflict over living space and food. It might be baboons in Namibia attacking young goats, or elephants in Nepal eating crops, or 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 and livestock (and therefore a source of income and food security), property, and sometimes their lives — even a severe injury caused by wildlife can result in a loss of livelihood. The animals, some of which are already threatened or even endangered, are sometimes killed in retaliation or to prevent future conflicts. Human-wildlife conflict is happening more and more, affecting a lot of different species. The effects of climate change will probably make the problem worse.

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