Human animal conflict in India: Once, during an evening walk with my friends, I see some forest officials walking in front of me. When we reached near them, they advised us to leave the area and go back.
Few weeks ago, the same officials were educating us how to avoid Leopard attacks. Every year, my town faces the problem of leopard attacks and after monsoon the danger is even higher. Women get attacked by the beast when they go to cut grass.
According to the data from Uttarakhand Forest Department in the year 2020, 75 leopards were declared man eaters. Over 400 people have been killed in leopard attacks since the state was formed in 2000.
Human deaths in leopard attacks account for nearly half of the total deaths due to wild animals in the state, reveals data from the state forest department.
Uttarakhand falls into Shivalik Hills where assessment was limited to an altitude of 2,600 metres. Shivalik-terai area is the juncture where socio-economic development and conservation are at a critical point and these areas report the most conflict between these big cats and humans.
More than 700 villages in Uttarakhand are being deserted because of the attacks of wild animals.
Conflict between humans and animals is one of the main threats to the long-term survival of some of the world’s most iconic species. Data from the Union Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change indicates that over 500 elephants were killed between 2014-2015 and 2018-2019, mostly due to human-elephant conflict. During the same period, 2,361 people were killed as a result of conflict with elephants.
What causes wild animals to enter civilization?
- Urbanisation: Rapid urbanisation leads to deforestation. With the reduction of forest, the wildlife population is also shrinking.
- Transport Network: As the country is building its highway network more remote places are being connected to the cities. Sometimes these highways go through forest and animals are getting injured in accidents.
- Increasing Human Population: Many human settlements coming up near the peripheries of protected areas and encroachment in the forest lands by local people for cultivation and collection of food and fodder etc. therefore increasing pressure on limited natural resources in the forests.
- Lack of Protected Area: Marine and terrestrial protected areas only cover 9.67% globally. About 40% of the African lion range and 70% of the African and Asian elephant ranges fall outside protected areas. In India, 35% tiger ranges currently lie outside protected areas.
- Animals often enter agricultural land and destroy the crops which leads to the loss for farmers.
- Animal attacks often result in human loss.
- Sometimes people might attack animals in self defence, which leads to the death of already endangered animals.
What can be done?
There are numerous approaches and measures that can be taken to reduce the damage or impacts, de-escalate tensions, address risks to income and poverty, and develop sustainable solutions. These sometimes include barriers (fences, nets, trenches), guarding and early-warning systems, deterrents and repellents (sirens, lights, beehives), translocation (moving wildlife), providing risk-reducing alternatives.
India has 17.7% of the world’s population and just 2.4% of land share. India is one of the most densely populated countries in the world. With the ever increasing population there is an increase in need of land. And where are we getting this land from? We are claiming it from the wildlife. We are chopping the forest destroying their home and when they enter our territory we complain.
Read more on Human Animal Conflict
- Human-Animal conflict in Madhya Pradesh
- Human-animal conflict: 224 killed, 3000 injured in Valley since 2006
- Conflict between humans and animals growing in Kashmir
- Aaliya Mir: From math teacher to save leopards and other wildlife