Human Animal Conflicts

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The relationship between man and wildlife, historically and prehistorically has been often antagonistic. People have hunted wild animals for food all over the world. Animals have attacked agricultural crops and livestock since the beginning of agriculture and settled lifestyle about 10,000 years ago. Many wild animals are potential competitors to humans for food resources or threats to human life. Wild animals that directly compete with humans for resources such as food or water quickly become ‘problem animals’ are included in the "man-animal conflict" category. Large mammals come into human conflict by destroying livestocks , property, crops and by killing people. According to NGO WPSI the man animal conflict has lead to nearly 20 elephant getting killed between Jan 2007 and Jan 2008 in elephant corridor connecting Karnataka, Kerala and Tamil nadu. In Nov- Dec 2007 at least five elephant deaths were reported from Waynad plateau region in Kerala and from Bandipur forest reserve along Karnataka Tamil nadu border.

Crop and livestock depredation: - A variety of mammals like elephant, rhino, deer, wild pig and monkeys cause immense damage to crops. Damage caused by wild pig is the most prominent one as they have a wide distribution. On a localized scale elephant damage is considerable. All cereals and millets are mostly damaged by elephants along with sugar cane, banana, mango, jackfruit etc. Besides this elephants also cause damage to human life and property. Carnivores such as leopard, tiger, and wild dog prey upon domestic livestock either by entering the settlements in the vicinity of their habitats or when these come into forest for grazing. The buffalos kept by Maldharis in the vicinity of Gir sanctuary form a substantial portion of food of the lions (Chellam, R). Domestic livestock form 30% of the tiger kills near the Chitwan national park in Nepal (Mishra, 1982).

Manslaughter: - There has been an increasing trend in manslaughter by animals. Several incidents of elephants and carnivores attacking people are common in several protected areas for e.g. in Sunderban mangroves.

Causes of man animal conflict:-

• Habitat and resource depletion :- more and more forest land occupied by people for settlements, agriculture , building dams and other forms of development has lead to the shrinking of the habitat area resulting in the compression of the wildlife population to levels beyond its carrying capacity. When the carrying capacity is exceeded the interaction between man and animals is intensified in many ways. Small or fragmented habitats surrounded by cultivation are incompatible with conservation of large mammals. New settlements springing up along the traditional migration path of elephant herds are subject to damage before animal find other routes or restrict their extensive seasonal movements. The human exploitation of forests for timber, fuelwood and fodder degrade the habitat and lower the resource base considerably. Bamboo stocks have been over exploited over much of the country’s forests for use by paper mills (Prasad and Gadgil, 1981). The decrease in fallow period of shifting cultivaton in northeast and Orissa has resulted in growth of invasive alien species which is disastrous for elephant population (Choudhary, L., 1980; Sukumar, 1989). The competition between domestic livestock and herbivores for forage has affected the fodder availability of the ungulates which has lead to reduction of the prey base of the carnivores resulting in the increased attack on the domestic livestock.

• Optimum foraging theory and conflict :- Ecological theory predicts that animals tend to feed in a manner that maximizes their nutrient intake in minimum possible time (Pyke et al., 1977). Hence cattle adapted to domestication fall prey to a carnivore far more easily than their wild cousins. Based on a study by Sukumar (1989) on crop raiding by elephants it was...
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