Study suggests early warning systems to save crops from wildlife

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NEW DELHI : Karnataka and Madhya Pradesh have recorded high levels of damage to crops and human life by the wildlife. The solution is deploying early warning systems and awarding adequate compensations, says a new study. It says up to 32 wildlife species are damaging life and property in India as they are not only endangering local livelihood but also they are fighting for their survival.

 

The study "History, Location and Species Matter: Insights for Human-Wildlife Conflict Mitigation", was published in the July 2017 edition of Human Dimensions of Wildlife.

Resolving human-wildlife conflict requires revisiting the goals of conservation policies and investments by people and organisations, Wildlife Conservation Society scientist Krithi Karanth said.

This is especially true with respect to effort and money deployed associated with mitigation and protection. People may be better served by deploying early warning, compensation and insurance programmes rather than by focusing heavily on mitigation, she said.

The study examined the patterns of human-wildlife conflict and mitigation use by 5,196 families from 2011 to 2014 from 2,855 villages neighbouring 11 wildlife reserves across western, central and southern India.

Its basic aim was to help inform better policies to mitigate human-wildlife conflict.

The research surveyed more than 5,000 households and found crops were lost by 71 per cent of households, livestock 17 per cent and human injury and death were reported by three per cent of the households.

Rural families use up to 12 different mitigation techniques to protect their crops, livestock and property.

Night-time watch, scare devices and fencing are the most common mitigation techniques used by rural families in the periphery of the reserves.

Families near reserves in Karnataka and Madhya Pradesh were most likely to use mitigation. In the last few years, these states have recorded high levels of damage by wildlife, and are among states that provide the highest compensation payments across India.

In contrast, families in Rajasthan were least likely to protect crops and property.

Another author, Sahila Kudalkar, research associate with the Centre for Wildlife Studies, said combined with high poverty and low awareness regarding government compensation, such families might be most vulnerable to impacts of wildlife damage upon their livelihood.

The researchers favour an open inclusive dialogue among local communities, governments and conservationists.

Across wildlife reserves, people reported average crop losses amounting to Rs 12,559 and Rs 2,883 of livestock losses annually.

Such losses constitute a significant chunk of India's rural economy, where the majority of the population earns less than Rs 5,000 per month, says the study.

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