OAS Mains Q&A: Man-animal conflict

Question

Give an account of causes and consequences of Man-animal conflict. Suggest few preventive measures

Sample Answer

Man-animal conflict simply refers to the interaction between man and animal and resultant negative impact on man and his resources or animal and its habitat.

Kinds of Man-animal conflicts

According to TERI University, the incidents of Man-Animal Conflicts can be categorized into following major types:

  • Human beings get killed or injured by wild animals in Man-animal Conflicts.
  • Livestock/Cattle reared by man get killed or injured in Man-animal conflicts.
  • Crop cultivated by man get damaged in Man-animal conflicts.
  • Wild animals get killed or injured in Man-animal conflicts.

Causes

  • Fragmentation and Shrinking of Habitat: In modern era, rapid urbanization and industrialisation have led to diversion of forest land to non-forest purposes, as a result the wildlife habitat is shrinking. This makes that landscape unviable for wild animals as their needs are not fulfilled. This results in animals straying out of habitat in search of food, water or shelter bringing them in conflict with humans.
  • Increasing Infrastructure Development: Recent relaxations in norms to allow for a widening of highway and railway networks near these protected areas are the new threats, adding to the old ones of retaliatory poisoning and poaching.
  • Land Use Change:Land use transformations in recent times due growing demand for food there is rapid conversion of forest lands into farm fields for cultivation. Also forest is being cleared for mining and developmental activities resulting in destruction of habitat of wildlife. This results into herbivores straying out of the forest and causing depredation of crops.
  • Infestation of Wildlife Habitat: Infestation of wildlife habitat by the invasive exotic weeds like Lantana, Eupatorium etc. have resulted in decreased availability of edible grasses for the wild herbivores. As a result, herbivores come out of forest area and cause depredation of agricultural crops on the fringes.
  • Increasing Human Activities: Increased disturbance due to collection of fuel wood, fodder, water etc. from the forests has also increased the incidences of man-animal conflict.
  • Decreased Prey Base: Due to illegal poaching of herbivores in forest areas, the prey base is on the decline.As a result carnivores are forced to roam into nearby villages in search of food. This leads to the killing of cattle by these carnivores, thus bringing them into conflict with humans.

Consequences

  • The aftermaths of the human-wildlife conflict are more serious in the tropics and in developing countries where livestock holdings and agriculture are an important part of livelihoods and incomes of people in rural areas.
  • People living near forest areas and buffer zones are mostly at risk of loss of live or injury due to attack by carnivores, straying out of forest areas in search of food.
  • Destruction of crops by wild animals like wild boar etc. can result in loss of income of rural households and it can also threaten the household’s food security.
  • The killing of livestock the killing of livestock by carnivores can destroy income source of agro-pastoralists who depend exclusively on cultivation and production of livestock. The loss of a family’s small herd of cattle to predators can effectively destroy that family’s wealth and way of life.
  • The killing of wild animals in retaliation for incidents of human-wildlife conflict is a common reaction, even though the identification of the real culprit is seldom possible. This has also resulted in wiping out of the whole population of some species from certain areas and also endangering their existence.

Preventive Measures

  • Poaching of wild animals should be stopped so that the number of wild animals can be stabilized and equilibrium between the numbers of prey animals and predators in the forest ecosystem can be maintained.
  • Wildlife corridors will provide a safe pathway to animals in the human-inhabited and developed areas. This will not only protect the animals from road kills but it can also steer them away from the human population thus prevent the man-animal conflict.
  • It is important to create awareness among people and sensitize them about the Do’s and Don’ts in the forest areas to minimize the conflicts between man and animal.
  • Agriculture fields situated near wildlife habitat/forest areas can be protected by stone fencing or solar fencing.
  • Compensation should be paid promptly to the victims of wildlife attack so that the people will not become enemy of the wild animals.
  • Eco-Tourism in the wildlife areas can help create an alternate source of income for local people and boost the local economy thus it can help in minimizing man-animal conflict on account of crop depredation or livestock killing.
  • Information technology tools like GPS, high-frequency radio collars etc. can help track the movement of animals and warn the local population. It can also monitor hotspots of man-animal conflict. Identifying conflict hot spots helps to pinpoint ranger manpower and funding to proactively address the issue of man-animal conflict.

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