Forest Department to step up interaction with local communities
Close on the heels of the poisoning of a tiger in the Nagarahole National Park in January in what is suspected to be an act of revenge killing, the Forest Department has increased its interaction with the local communities to gain their support for wildlife conservation.
As a first step, it has mooted enhancing cash compensation for cattle deaths due to attacks by wild animals that stray out of their natural habitats. R. Gokul, Conservator of Forests and Director, Nagarahole National Park, told The Hindu that the Rs. 3,000 compensation for cattle killed by wild animals was not sufficient. “I have proposed an increase in the cash compensation so that the local people living on the fringes of the forests do not nurture negative feelings about wildlife,” he said.
People living on the fringes of Nagarahole and Bandipur national parks demanded an increase in the compensation amount in the wake of the escalation of man-elephant conflict a few years ago. The crop compensation awarded then was a token amount and there were instances when the Forest Department had released Rs. 300 to Rs. 500 as “compensation” to farmers who lost standing sugarcane crop worth Rs. 2 lakh.
However, this has since been increased and the crop compensation is based on the acreage and the type of crop damaged by the elephant herd. A similar enhancement is imperative in case of livestock death too, D. Rajkumar, Wildlife Conservation Foundation, Mysore, said.
“It is equally important to release the money immediately and not make the local people wait indefinitely,” he added.
At present it takes anywhere between 3 to 4 months for the local people to receive the compensation amount and people are running out of patience, Mr.Rajkumar said.
Mr. Gokul said the Forest Department was aware of the delay and efforts were on to ensure that funds were released and paid on the spot.
Meanwhile, there are fears in some quarters that increasing the compensation amount wil lead to false claims and even natural deaths of livestock will be passed off as death due to leopard or a tiger attack.
However, Mr. Rajkumar said it was difficult to make fake claims as there was sufficient expertise with the Forest Department to ascertain if the claim is genuine or fake.
At present, the compensation for cattle killed by wild animals is Rs. 3,000 It takes between 3 to 4 months for the local people to receive the amount
At present, the compensation for cattle killed by wild animals is Rs. 3,000
It takes between 3 to 4 months for the local people to receive the amount