Human Wildlife Interactions
Conflicts over biodiversity conservation, specifically human-wildlife conflicts (HWC), are increasingly recognised as one of the most important and seemingly insolvable issues for conservation today. It is fast becoming a serious threat to the survival of many endangered species in the world and it is not restricted to a particular geographical area. Conflict arises from a range of direct and indirect negative interactions between humans and wildlife that include economic losses to agriculture, including loss of cattle through predation and destruction of crops. In certain areas it often occurs over access to water and competition for resources. Such losses can make communities antagonistic and intolerant towards wildlife, which can result in retribution killing of problem species as well as undermining and impeding conservation strategies.
In these circumstances, both wildlife conservation and sustainable development suffers. The most severe conflict cases occur in biodiversity-rich landscapes with high human densities, where problems of habitat and species loss are interwoven with the desperate needs of impoverished local communities, who bear a high cost for conservation, however the scenario in the Western Ghats over the years have been different where conflict is experienced in towns and modified landscapes like estates.
The Western Ghats in India is one of the world‘s biodiversity hotspots, with 58 Protected Areas covering 9.06% of the landscape. However, these are isolated islands embedded in a human-dominated landscape. Currently some of the highest biodiversity in the Western Ghats exists outside protected areas in regions supporting some of the highest human densities globally. This area has a long history of human wildlife interactions in the landscape where changes in land-use patterns have led to disturbances or breaks to corridors of wildlife thereby causing straying of wildlife into human habitations. The HWI project seeks to work with Civil society organizations, local administration, state departments, communities and other relevant stakeholders with some of the long-term goals being policy changes, restoration of fragmented wildlife corridors and awareness within the general public about precautionary measures to prevent conflict situations.
Activities / Components
Identify regions of conflict through consultations with organisations across the Western Ghats and enable spot research to understand and build up information on the conflict situation at the local level. The partners will be mapped prior to the initiation workshop; the possibility of including the existing partners in the WG CSO alliance will also be explored. Collate data/information on human wildlife conflicts from primary and secondary sources. Information pertaining to crop raiding, human and wildlife deaths, livestock depredation, compensation mechanisms across state forest departments and its efficiency.
Discussions and consultations with local administration, state departments, researchers, communities, conservationists and community based organisations on measures in place to mitigate conflicts and the extent to which they have been successful and the circumstances where they have not worked. These stakeholders are considered important as they are effectively placed to make decisions and policy changes with regard to human wildlife conflicts.
Organising advocacy meetings and workshops at the state level & presenting this to the MOEF, Planning Commission, which specifically have programs for the Western Ghats. This engagement will be a continuous effort beyond the end of the project. The possibility of forming an exclusive group involving the administration, scientists and community-based organisation will be explored during the course of the project.