Human-wildlife conflict identified in 1,004 areas

Forest dept. submits recommendations to mitigate menace

Updated - February 13, 2022 08:51 pm IST

Published - February 13, 2022 08:47 pm IST - THIRUVANANTHAPURAM

The State has witnessed human-wildlife conflict across 1,004 areas, the Forest Department has found. A State-wide study has recorded over 48,000 incidents of damage to major crops between 2013-14 and 2018-19.

The statistics were factored in by the department while submitting recommendations to mitigate the increasing prevalence of conflicts resulting out of anthropogenic pressures on forest areas.

Among the 35 forest and wildlife divisions in the State, Nilambur north (94), Wayanad south (92) and Wayanad north (70) have the highest numbers of major conflict locations across three forest ranges each. Kozhikode, Nenmara, Kottayam and Thiruvananthapuram are the other divisions that have identified over 50 such areas.

Wild elephants have been involved in the highest number of man-animal conflicts in the State. Pachyderms were responsible for 14,611 incidents recorded between 2013-14 and 2018-19. Wild boars (5,518), bonnet macaques (4,405) and snakes (2,531) are the others in this category.

Elephants, bonnet macaque and wild boars are the villains for farmers who rely on agricultural income in forest fringe areas. Herbivores such as sambar, spotted deer and gaur also significantly contribute to crop damage.

These species have caused wide damage to agricultural crops such as plantain, coconut, arecanut, coffee and pepper. As many as 48,123 such incidents have been recorded between 2013-14 and 2018-19. Of these, 14,604 incidents have resulted in damage to plantain plantations.

Tigers, leopards and snakes, on the other hand, have contributed most towards livestock depredation. A total of 814 livestock animals, including cattle, buffalo and goat, have been reported to have been killed or suffered injuries in such attacks. Tigers have preyed on 420 animals among these.

Among the various causes that have been cited for increasing human wildlife conflicts is the increase in cultivated area around wildlife habitats and changed cropping pattern. The preference towards growing commercial crops such as sugarcane, banana and rubber, which provide ample food and cover for wild animals, has also been responsible.

Monoculture of exotic species such as eucalyptus, acacia and wattle in large scale has also adversely affected habitat quality of forest areas. There has also been an increase in the population of animals, thanks to conservation activities and steps to rein in poaching and wildlife trade. Old and injured animals that are capable of hunting in the wild as well as the ‘floaters’ (young animals in search of new territories) also come into conflict with humans, the study found.

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