Human-Wildlife Conflict: Causes, Effects & Prevention

If you are looking for human-wildlife conflict, then you are at the right place. In this article, you will understand the causes of human-wildlife conflict, the Effects of human-wildlife conflict UPSC, and how to prevent Man-Animal conflict. We assure you that after reading this complete article you understand all the aspects of Human-Wildlife Conflict.

Human-Wildlife Conflict & Environmental Degradation

Today’s India is a rapidly growing nation aggressively pushing towards urbanization and infrastructure development. One of the dominant reasons for such changes is the nation’s rising population. One of the nation’s core concerns is maintaining food security for the rising population.

To achieve all such targets, forces and institutions of development ultimately turn towards clearing more forests and exploiting natural resources. Environmental degradation due to farming, construction activity, industrialization, mining, road, and canal building is today’s reality. This creates pressure on the forest and natural ecosystem. This ultimately affects wildlife on a broader level.

This effect of environmental degradation multiplies the rising climate change and global warming where wildlife faces the rapid loss of natural habitat with a severe water, food, and shelter shortage.

Human-Wildlife Conflict

Human-wildlife conflict is one of the most complex and urgent challenges for wildlife conservation worldwide. It typically involves situations in which a threatened species poses a direct threat to people and their livelihoods, resulting in retaliation against the species they blame for this. This affects not only herbivores but also carnivores as well. This creates the repetitive nature of the man-animal conflict.

Human-Wildlife Conflict Data

Responding to a query in Lok Sabha, the Minister of State (MoS) for Environment said: ‘2,398 people have died since 2014 up to March 31, 2019, due to human-elephant conflict, with West Bengal recording the maximum 403 deaths in the last five years. According to government data on human-wildlife conflict, on average tigers or elephants kill one person a day.

Some Examples of Human-Wildlife Conflict

Following are some human-wildlife conflict examples:

  • Leopards in Sanjay Gandhi National Park: The rising population of leopards in the Sanjay Gandhi National Park, which is surrounded by Mumbai city is an interesting example of it. A similar phenomenon is also seen in the recent developments in the changes in the food habits of wild animals the world over.
  • Polar Bears in Alaska: Recently there are various cases identified in remote parts of Alaska where polar bears have been seen scavenging in the dustbins and trash cans of the local human settlement.
  • Monkeys at Pilgrimage Site: In India, the group of monkeys at temples and pilgrimage sites are common sites. So, these are some examples of human-wildlife conflict in India & World.

What are the Causes of Human-Wildlife Conflict in India?

Various communities living in the forest or around the forest have a very meager source of livelihood with no economical and social safety net at their disposal. Many times it is seen that wild animals destroy the crop fields of the local community and attack members of such community injuring or killing members of the community.

Recent events where Nilgai and wild boars destroyed the standing crops of farmers in Bihar reflect this stark reality. This creates a strong sense of anger and resentment in the local community towards the wild animals. In such a situation the possibilities cannot be denied when the local community may think that government is more concerned about the life and protection of wild animals rather than human beings. which led to man-animal conflict in India. Further, local communities take the law into their own hands to carry out incidences of electrocuting, poisoning, or lynching wild animals.

India’s wild tiger population has increased by more than 30% in four years, rising hopes for the survival of the endangered species. But given the anthropogenic pressure around the forest and tiger reserves, this surplus tiger population cannot find enough space to live in the same reserve. This increases the possibility of tigers straying into the human settlement for food and water which lead to tiger-human conflict which could turn out to be quite deadly for tigers and for humans as well. Which led to Human-Wildlife Conflict in India.

Effects of Human-Wildlife Conflict

Through a detailed study of animal behavior, it is now come to know that some animals such as leopards have ‘homing instinct’ and are rapidly adapting to live alongside human settlements. They return to their original location even if they are rehabilitated to other places.

Because of human infiltration and encroachment in the forest areas the natural corridors of wild animals have been reduced or disturbed. Further, close human and animal interaction wild animals are also slowly getting accustomed to living close to human beings.

For animals, such instances are associated with the memory of the presence of human beings with the possibility of finding food. This affects the natural behavior pattern of wild animals. They become more familiar with the human presence. This ultimately leads to more man-animal conflict. Because of environmental degradation, loss of vegetation, water resource, food, and natural game wild animals resort to human settlement. This led to more human-wildlife conflict.

How to Prevent Human-Wildlife Conflict?

How to Prevent Human-Wildlife Conflict?
How to Prevent Human-Wildlife Conflict?

There is various method to prevent human-wildlife conflict. Following are some methods to Reduce Human-Wildlife Conflict:

  1. Implementation of Rules & Regulations: Effective implementation of the rules & regulations. Further, legal provisions have been given under the wildlife protection act and forest Act to ensure a safe environment for wildlife.
  2. Fences: Innovative measures like solar-charged electric fences, and bio fences like cactus, and chili could be applied to protect the farm crops.
  3. Insurance: Farmers living near forest ranges should be included in the crop insurance category if the crops are destroyed by wildlife.
  4. Develop Corridors: In the cases where construction and infrastructure development have to be done in places of elephant corridors, provision of safe ramps, underground walking spaces, and light reflectors for the animals should be created along the railway track and highway roads.
  5. Use of Technology: There is an urgent need to introspect on the definition of development(via technology) which focuses on excessive consumerism, environmental degradation, deforestation, and damage to wildlife.
  6. Community Efforts: To ensure the protection of the environment, forest, and wildlife, it is important to engage with the local community who live alongside wildlife. Ensuring the social and economic safety nets with sustainable livelihood options focusing on sustainable living with the environment can create strong pro-wildlife stakeholders in wildlife protection and conservation efforts.
  7. Awareness: It is also important to imbibe environmental awareness along with animal ethics in schools and colleges to build an environmentally sensitive future generation.

Human-Wildlife Conflict Conclusion

Article 51 A (g) of the Constitution states that it shall be the fundamental duty of every citizen to protect and improve the natural environment including forests and Wildlife. The Directive Principles of State Policy – Article 48 A, mandates that the State shall endeavor to protect and improve the environment and to safeguard the forests and wildlife of the country. The Constitution of India also enshrines the ‘Right to live dignified life’ under Article 21.

One has to understand that no human can live a dignified life with degrading environmental conditions with damaged wildlife since such action would bring self-created destruction of humanity Existence of human beings is directly based upon a pure sustainable environment and forests. Since wildlife is the actual custodian and key contributing factor of a sustainable environment, any negative impact of environmental degradation will make wildlife suffer which will negatively affect human lives as well.

One has to understand that environment and ecosystem are complex interdependent networks and human beings are part of it and not on top of it. In fact, human beings are part and parcel of that delicate network of life like any other life form. We are passengers on the same boat. We will either sail together or sink together. It is better not to drill holes in the same boat in which we all and our future children are traveling.

So, in this article, we have discussed all the aspects of Human-wildlife Conflicts.

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