Conflict got bigger, bloodier; forest dept a lot wiser

Conflict got bigger, bloodier; forest dept a lot wiser

Conflict got bigger, bloodier; forest dept a lot wiser

The year 2015 is one of the worst when it comes to human-animal conflict as the State saw nearly 21 people losing their lives due to wild animal attacks.

The Forest department officials were forced to ‘hunt’ for three big cats which had turned into man-eaters.

Of the 21 people killed in animal attacks, elephants had the lion’s share in killing the humans. As many as 14 people were killed by  wild elephants this year, followed by three humans by leopard, two by crocodile and one each by bear and tiger.

On the other hand, three man-eater wild cats (two leopards and one tiger) were gunned down by the officials as they created panic among village residents. Search is on for the third man-eating leopard in the Sandur forests of Ballari district. The leopard had killed two humans in the last two months. In Sandur region alone, there are 19 reported of cases of leopard attack on cattle.

“The Forest department’s top priority is to tranquilise and cage these trouble-causing animals. Though orders are given to shoot down the man-eating big cats, the foot soldiers are always asked to first tranquilise them,” said Principal Chief Conservator of Forests (PCCF, Wildlife) Ravi Ralph.

“Karnataka has been continuing the policy of relocating the trouble-causing wild animals instead of killing them,” he said. Orders for shooting the wild cats are given only when there is no chance of tranquilising or trapping them.

So far, the department has succeeded in tranquilising three man-eating tigers in the State and rehabilitating them in zoos. The department has succeeded in trapping several leopards and tigers this year and relocating them within their territory.

Moving predators out of their territory causes more trouble than solving the human-animal conflict as the translocated animal may start a territorial fight with the domicile animals.

“All the non man-eater tigers/leopards are relocated in their own territory, but in a safer location,” he said.

According to documents provided by the office of Ralph, there are more than 1,500 leopards in the forests across the State, whereas there are nearly 406 wild tigers. Experts say that despite such high population of tigers and leopards, the Forest department has managed better the human-animal conflict compared to other states.

Experts say that there is no spurt in the population of wild animals, but the State has succeeded in preventing poaching.

Ajai Misra,  additional principal chief conservator of forests, said that most of the human-animal conflicts are accidental as humans come in the path of animals unknowingly.

“All animals fear humans. It is their (animals’) survival instinct that results in casualties of humans. Animals are not coming into our habitat, it is the other way round,” he said.

Wildlife expert Dr Sanjay Gubbi puts the blame on humans for increase in wildlife attacks. “Shrinking of forests is one of the major reasons for the animal-human conflict. The agriculture lands have ventured too far inside the territory of animals.”

Poaching of the prey of animals (carnivores) is another reason why wild animals are increasingly converting the fringes of the forest into their territory. The animals are being forced to prey on cattle, said experts.   

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