HC suggests formation of joint action plan to tackle human-wildlife conflicts

Published - February 20, 2024 11:28 pm IST - KOCHI

The Kerala High Court has suggested the formation of a joint action plan by the Additional Chief Secretaries of Kerala, Tamil Nadu and Karnataka for the effective implementation of steps to contain human-animal conflicts. The State governments shall organise joint discussions at the level of the Additional Chief Secretaries so that urgent decisions can be taken without waiting for the approval from higher authorities, observed a Division Bench of the court consisting of Justices A. K. Jayasankaran Nambiar and P. Gopinath.

The joint action plan can effectively tackle the jurisdictional issues that may arise in connection with the darting of the elephant Belur Makhna. The Chief Wildlife Warden of Kerala cannot authorise the darting of the elephant if the animal is located in the Karnataka forests. The order permits the Wildlife officials of Kerala to dart the elephant if it is likely to cross over into human settlements in Kerala and cause damage to human life or property. The order does not permit the officials to venture into the deep forests, far away from the human settlements, and in search of the elephant for darting. However, darting would be possible at places where the forest areas falling within the territorial limits of Karnataka are contiguous to human settlements in the State of Kerala. Such jurisdictional issues could be addressed by the committee, said the order.

The court also asked the Chief Conservator of Forests, Wildlife, North Circle, to prepare a map of trenches,

barriers and fences put up by private individuals and the Government in the North and South Wayanad divisions and submit it to the convener of the committee constituted by the court. An affidavit on the availability of water tanks and artificially created watering holes and the steps taken to ensure the availability of water during the summer months shall also be submitted to the committee within 10 days, the court directed.

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