Mitigating Human-Wildlife Conflict

(1) Approach

Human-wildlife conflict varies in intensity and impact depending on the animals involved. In the Kalakad-Mundanthurai Tiger Reserve, for example, wild boars, elephants and ungulates invade agricultural crops. Common langurs occasionally damage human property in the fringes, while leopards and sloth bears stray into villages. In general, the magnitude of the problem is higher in villages abutting PAs where there is a greater density of elephants. Probably, the most damage to crops is caused by elephants and wild boars, followed by deer. Meanwhile, the most frequent causes of loss of life and injury are probably due to elephants and snakes.

While the TNFD has adopted various mitigation measures to deal with the problem, e.g., solar-powered electric fencing, trenches, driving animals back, capturing and relocating stray wild animals, there has been a generally increasing trend in the number of casualties. Consequently, the amount of compensation has increased from Rs 8.594 million in 2006 to Rs 11.387 million in 2010, of which the TNFD has paid 50% of the total.

In the Eleventh Five-Year Plan (2007-2012) of the State, it is proposed to erect 360 kms of solar-powered electric fence at a cost of Rs 160,000/km. Investments in solar-powered electric fencing for the previous years varied. In 2006-07, 262.5 km were fenced at a cost of Rs 42.4 million. In 2007-08, 315.75 km were fenced at a cost of Rs 80.82 million. In 2008-09 an additional 331.25km were fenced at a cost of Rs 52.90 million and in 2009-10, 258 km were fenced at a cost of Rs 41.535 million. Satyamangalam (170 km) and Coimbatore (129.5 km) are the two forest divisions that have installed most fencing, followed by Tirunelveli (99 km), Hosur (94 km), Pollachi (87 km) and Kanyakumari (85 km).

This sub-component is focused on reducing human-wildlife conflicts, principally through enhancing provisions for elephant movements via corridors, protecting villages and cultivations from marauding animals by fencing.

(3) Strategies

Human-wildlife conflict is a major conservation, social and economic issue that tends to impact most of those living in rural areas at subsistence levels near the wildlife refugia. It is an inevitable consequence of increasing human populations and declining space for wildlife, particularly large mammals. However, this can be managed while risks of death and injury can be reduced to a minimum, damages to livestock and crops can be minimized. It does require significant investment but the economic gains in terms of livelihoods can outweigh the costs. Moreover, the social benefits are huge with respect to increased security. Ultimately, conservation benefits from the increased support from local communities and the public at large for the proper controls and good management. Many conservationists would argue conservation and co-existence is essential to maintain ecosystem services such as livelihood, and indeed that if properly managed the presence of wildlife represents an opportunity, a possible escape route from poverty (Philip Muruthi, 2005, Human Wildlife Conflict). This can be achieved through close cooperation with local communities and, therefore, is linked very closely to participatory management and micro-planning process with Eco Development Committees (EDCs) and village forest councils (VFCs).

(2) Rationale

1.3.1 Train field staff and village volunteers in wildlife conflict management

Action 1 Training in wildlife conflict management and monitoring wildlife movements Train field staff and village volunteers in wildlife conflict management

1.3.2 Identify and manage traditional migratory routes elephant and gaur

Action 2 Current status of traditional migratory routes and management requirements Review historic data and information on large mammal movements Monitor migratory movements of wildlife (elephant and gaur) using GPS Establish anti-depredation squads to help protect revenue lands from wildlife including driving back elephants Enter georeferenced data in biodiversity database/GIS

1.3.3 Establish wild-life proof barricades around villages

Action 1 Protecting village lands and properties from marauding wildlife Provide and maintain for 5 years elephant-proof trenching where appropriate Provide and maintain for 5 years solar-powered fencing where appropriate Maintain barricades Monitor incidences of human-wildlife conflict Monitor and report on effectiveness of wildlife-proof barricades around villages
Action 2 Establish mobile veterinary units Translocate animals as required Establish and operate mobile veterinary facility