Human-Animal Conflict - The Issue of Man-Animal Conflict in India


11:21 AM

1 min read
Human-Animal Conflict - The Issue of Man-Animal Conflict in India Blog Image

What’s in Today’s Article?

  • Why in News?
  • What is Man-Animal Conflict?
  • Case Study - Success Story of Kerala in Managing Man-Animal Conflict
  • Kerala’s Decision to Declare Man-Animal Conflict as a State-Specific Disaster

Why in News?

  • Amid repeated deaths from animal attacks and rising anger over them, Kerala declared man-animal conflict as a state-specific disaster, becoming the first state in the country to do so.

What is Man-Animal Conflict?

  • Meaning:
    • It relates to the interaction between wild animals and humans, as well as the negative consequences for people, their resources, wild animals, and their habitats.
    • Human-wildlife conflict has reached alarming levels in states across India. For example,
      • In Maharashtra, human-wildlife conflict led to the death of 86 people in 2021 and 105 in 2022 - a sharp increase compared with the last decade when average human deaths were around 40.
  • Causes:
    • Growing populations of human or animal overlap with established wildlife or human territory, resulting in a loss of resources.
    • Habitat and corridor fragmentation as a result of legal and unlawful land use changes, such as mining clearances or agricultural encroachment.
    • Changing cropping patterns attract wild animals to agriculture.
    • Habitat destruction as a result of the spread of invasive alien species, etc.
    • India currently has more than 700 protected areas. However, 70% of elephant ranges, 40% of lion ranges and 35% of tiger ranges are outside protected areas (WWF).
    • Ecologist Madhav Gadgil said the Wildlife Protection Act 1972 has enabled an atmosphere where wild animals can invade human habitations with impunity.
      • He explained the optimal foraging theory in ecology, which states that animals try to maximise nutrient intake while minimising time, effort and risks.
  • Solutions:
    • Better enforcement and a pragmatic policy: To address the issue will lessen incidences of man-animal conflict.
    • Involvement of local communities: According to the Future for All Report 2021 (by WWF and UNEP), involving local communities will foster coexistence between humans and wildlife, as it is impossible to completely eliminate human-wildlife conflicts.
    • Awareness campaigns: To educate, guide, and advise the general public about man-animal conflict, including information dissemination via various types of media.
    • Skill-development initiatives: People living in and around the forest would benefit from reduced pressures on both agricultural and forest land.

Case Study - Success Story of Kerala in Managing Man-Animal Conflict

  • Kerala had about 5,700 (19% of nationwide population of 30,000 in 2017) wild elephant population and elephants killed 2,036 people in India (between 2018-2021) and Kerala accounted for only 81 (4%) of these deaths.
  • What has kept man-animal conflicts under control in Kerala?
    • The boundaries between wilderness and civilization have mostly stayed unchanged in recent years.
    • Changes in agriculture practices. For example, coffee, pepper, and tea plantations, where jumbos have little interest.
    • Jumbos are named from their characteristics. Kabali, for example, is an elephant who lives in the Athirapally jungle in Thrissur district and is known to attack or chase automobiles.

Kerala’s Decision to Declare Man-Animal Conflict as a State-Specific Disaster

  • What changes with this decision?
    • At present, managing man-animal conflict is the responsibility of the forest department, which acts as per the Wild Life Protection Act.
    • Once the issue is declared a state-specific disaster, the onus to deal with it shifts to the state disaster management authority, which is powered by the Disaster Management Act and can take quicker and more decisive action.
  • Need to take this decision:
    • Every time a life has been lost to man-animal conflict, there has been a mounting pressure to tranquilise/capture/kill the animals responsible.
    • At present, the chief wildlife warden (only one such post in the state) is the only authority to take a call on a wild animal wreaking havoc in human settlement.
    • Also, in the past, the decision to tranquilise a killer animal, such as a wild elephant, has been questioned in court.
    • Once the issue is under the disaster management authority, it can take actions overriding other norms, including those under the Wildlife Protection Act.
    • As per the Disaster Management Act, no court (except the SC or a HC) shall have jurisdiction to entertain any suit or proceeding in respect of anything done by relevant authorities in pursuance of any power conferred by this Act.
    • The Act also says that the provisions of this Act will have an overriding effect on any other law during the specific period that a disaster has been declared.

Q1) What is the Disaster Management Act?

The Disaster Management Act 2005 provides for the effective management of disasters and calls for the establishment of National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA), with the Prime Minister of India as chairperson.

Q2) Why was the Wildlife Protection Act 1972 enacted?

The Wildlife Protection Act 1972 was enacted to prevent the illegal hunting, poaching, and trade of wildlife species, as well as to preserve their natural habitats.