Environment and Ecology

Man-Animal Conflict: Avni the Tigress

Recently we have seen the murder of Tigress Avni in Maharashtra after the Maharashtra government permitted a hunter to kill “man-eating” tigress Avni. However, is this the only case a human and wildlife conflict? The answer to this is NO.

Wild animals often stray in villages and farms in and around protected areas and sanctuaries, causing bloody conflicts. And now increasingly we are seeing wild animals wander into urban areas causing human-animal conflicts.

 

What are the causes of Man-Animal Conflict?

  • Habitat fragmentation and shrinking of habitat: Urbanization, occupancy of land for human use have constantly reduced and fragmented the space and food for the wildlife. This occupancy can be anything from road construction to the use of land for our agriculture produce.
  • Human intervention in the core and buffer zone is equally threatening to the wildlife.
  • Infestation of wildlife habitat by the invasive exotic weeds, as a result of which herbivores come out of forest area and plunder agriculture crops.
  • Poachers and hunters are continuously disturbing the equilibrium since past.
  • Increased disturbance in forest due to fuel, water, food collection etc.
  • Changed cropping pattern have also contributed to increased man-animal conflict. Like sugarcane and other tall grass vegetation near forest give hunting animals a hiding place.
  • Even natural disasters and conditions may force animals to come out of forest i.e., earthquake, erosion activities etc.

All these conditions result in animals stray out of habitat in search of food, water or shelter or just saving themselves.

Results of Human Wildlife Conflict:

  • Crop Damage: Agriculture produce near transitional zone get trespassed by the animal esp. herbivores and damages the crops and other agriculture produce.
  • Animal Deaths: This conflict generally ends up in the death of animal, which in turn disturbs the biodiversity and ecosystem. However, loss of human life is also the outcome of many of these interactions.
  • Physical and Mental Injuries to People and Wildlife: It is very common outcome because of the shock and fear for both the parties.
  • Livestock Depredation: In search of food animal most of the time plunders the livestock.

 

Measures to Control Man- Animal Conflict:

  • Wildlife corridors and avoiding fragmentation of the habitat can be one the most basic and result orienting measure.
  • Stone or Solar fencing will curb the man and animal both from trespassing each other.
  • Monitoring of the forest needs to be enhanced with the help of technology i.e., GPS, surveillance cameras, satellite mapping etc.
  • Stop mono-culture cropping pattern, providing variety of plantation and food to the species in forest.
  • Providing LPG to the villagers’ esp. near forest, to reduce their demand for forest fuel wood.
  • Adequate training of forest officers and their availability near the forest villages can prove to be a game changer.
  • Laws regarding hunting and poaching needs to be stricter.

 

Government Laws regarding wildlife protection:

  • Wildlife Protection Act, 1972
  • Forest (Conservation) Act of 1980
  • Biodiversity Act 2000

Avni, the tigress was killed which comes under Schedule 1 of Wild Life (Protection) Act, 1972. Which specifies, the names of protected species of animals, birds and plants, which has been provided legal protection against hunting and commercial exploitation. Special programs like ‘Project Tiger’ and ‘Project Elephant’ have been launched for conservation of these endangered species and their habitats under this Act only.

However, National Tiger Conservation Authority laid down a Standard Operating Procedure for declaring a tiger a ‘man-eater’ and initiating its removal. The first and foremost requirement is to determine if the attack on human beings was accidental or intentional. Since a man eater can jeopardize the life of locals and work of forest officials. Moreover the decision of supreme-court was rational, however the tigress could have been saved and trained if the officials were well equipped and planned.

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