Most translocation efforts by Forest Department have been successful

The Forest Department has embarked upon a challenging task of mitigating animal-human conflicts in the periphery of forest areas by capture and translocation of wildlife responsible for such conflicts. Translocation is the transport and release of wild animals from one location of a forest area to another with emphasis on nuisance- and conflict-control.

The seriousness attached to this task by the department is reflected in the April 24 order from Chief Wildlife Warden V. Gopinathan awarding good service entry to Arun Zachariah, assistant forest veterinary officer of the Wayanad Wildlife Division, in recognition of the key role he plays “by showing exemplary courage and taking considerable risk” while engaged in the translocation programmes.

Mr. Gopinathan told The Hindu that all over the State crop depredation by wild animals was increasing. Tigers and leopards strayed into human habitats, creating panic among people. In Wayanad district such incidents were becoming regular. But many cases had been successfully tackled through translocation, Mr. Gopinathan said.

Neighbours meet

At the initiative of the National Tiger Conservation Authority, top-level forest officers from Kerala, Tamil Nadu, and Karnataka which share common forest areas had met in April to chart out a strategy for translocation to deal with animal-human conflicts.

New techniques were now used to capture problem wildlife for translocation. “This is now being done secretly so as to avoid intrusion of crowds into the operation area,” Mr. Gopinathan said. The presence of crowds hampered the operation and led to casualties. Stating that the dedication shown by Dr. Zachariah deserves to be recognised, Mr. Gopinathan said that two tigers responsible for animal-human conflict in Wayanad this year were captured and translocated to the Thrissur zoo. Three wild tuskers which destroyed crops were also translocated. The translocation programme is being carried out in all forest areas in the State, he said.

Dr. Zachariah told The Hindu that this year 14 leopards responsible for conflict with humans in Wayanad were tranquilised and translocated. During translocation, thrust is given to the presence of a satisfactory prey-base for the big cats.

He said that apart from translocation, the programme also includes rescuing and providing medical treatment to injured endangered wild animals like the tiger. In normal circumstances, injured wild animals have to be left to fend for themselves. But in the case of endangered species, human intervention is necessary.

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