What has been another cause for the increased Leopard deaths is poaching. In 2010, 54.87 %
of the 328 leopard deaths across the country were reported due to poaching. 23
―Most leopard deaths are caused when they wander into human habitation and the scared
people try to drive them away. As long as this attitude persists, their numbers will continue to
fall. This is an issue that needs to go beyond the law. We need to place more emphasis on
creating awareness among the people on the need to protect these animals,‖ says Belinda
Wright, Executive Director, Wildlife Protection Society of India (WPSI)
Although there have been no exclusive surveys done to estimate the Leopard population of
India, Government put their number at 12,014 in January, 2008. Most experts feel that this
number may have changed for the worse in the last 2-3 years. 24
Environment consists of the physical surroundings and conditions including the quality of air,
water, greenery, vegetation and all forms of living creatures forming a habitat. Most of us in
some part of our lives have experienced the "Web of life‖ which shows us that every form of
life is dependent on the other for its survival, right from the algae and fungi down to humans.
The extinction of any species creatures only goes out to break the chain of the cycle of
normality of a balanced ecology. 25
Wildlife-human conflicts are a serious obstacle to wildlife conservation, and the livelihoods of
people worldwide and are becoming more prevalent as human population increases,
development expands, and global climate changes and other human and environmental factors
put people and wildlife in greater direct competition for a shrinking resource base.
The major threats being faced by the wildlife in India 26
Conservation of Wildlife is ignored in the development era. But we should not forget that
environment & development go hand in hand. It is the duty of Government & Individuals
(Citizens of India) to be responsible towards environment & conserve wildlife. Today, efforts
are being made towards wildlife conservation in India, to preserve this natural wealth.
Numerous wildlife conservation projects have been undertaken in India, both at the
government as well as the individual level, to protect the rich wildlife of the subcontinent 27
http://indiasendangered.com ‗Leopards Victims of The Man-Animal Conflict‘ (Accessed on 10 th
24 http://raftingmasti.com/indian_leopard.htm (Accessed on 10
th March 2012)
25 Akhila, Amol, Wild Life Protection in India, Preserve Article
26 http://www.iloveindia.com/wildlife/wildlife-conservation.html (Accessed on 25-May-2012)
27 supra 36 (Accessed on 17th Jan 2013)
By Orion McCarthy
A new population survey in India shows tigers making a modest comeback. Photo credit: WWF.
THE TIGER is an iconic endangered species, with as few as 3,200 leftin the forests of India and Southeast Asia. Conservationists have invested millions of dollars into saving the species, and recent population surveys have showed a promising uptick in the number of tigers in the wild.
This is good news for tigers. But is it good news for people living with tigers?
The answer is a mixed bag. Tigers keep forest ecosystems across Asia in balanceas the dominant top predator, and sustain ecotourism and conservation funding as a flagship species.
But living in close proximity to tigers can be dangerous.
The historic range of tigers is shown in beige, while the current range is orange. The region is now home to 3 billion people, with tigers occupying the few forests and national parks amidst the growing sprawl. Photo credit: WWF.
Due to the high population density of Southern Asia, tigers are responsible for more human deaths than any other large cat, killing approximately 60 people annually. Deaths are often the case of mistaken identity and occur most frequently on the fringes of tiger habitat, where the large cats have the best chances of crossing paths with humans.
As human populations expand and tiger populations recover, attacks are expected to occur more frequently.
Tiger attacks are a severe form of human-wildlife conflict. Other forms of human-wildlife conflict include livestock predation, harassment, property damage, and interpersonal conflict over wildlife issues.
Human-wildlife conflict isn’t a tiger specific issue. Without proper management, conflict can arise wherever abundant wildlife and expanding human populations overlap. Issues often arise with large predators such as bears, wolves, coyotes, lions, andcrocodiles, as well as large and potentially dangerous herbivores such as elephants, hippos, and even deer.
Deer-vehicle collisions, crop raiding elephants, and bears with an appetite for garbage are all potentially deadly examples of human wildlife conflict. Photo credit: Mercury Press.
Such conflicts can destroy livelihoods and undermine conservation efforts.
Thankfully, many innovative solutions have been crafted to address a variety of human-wildlife conflicts and avoid lethal control measures. Some solutions are species specific, while others are broadly applicable.
Foxlight is designed to scare away crop raiding wildlife. Photo credit: Foxlight.com.
1. Strobe Lights
To scare off destructive nocturnal wildlife, farmers increasingly rely on automatic light machines. Half strobe light and half motion sensor, the machines flash beams of light randomly in all directions to mimic a farmer with a flashlight. Wary nocturnal animals have been shown to avoid such light signals, although the effect wears off over time as wildlife becomes habituated to the lights.
2. Natural Barriers
To keep elephants at a safe distancefrom their farms and homes, some African villagers have turned to two unlikely, all-natural solutions: bees and hot peppers. Elephants dislike the chemical capsaicin found in chili peppers, prompting farmers in Tanzania to smother their fences with a mixture of oil and chili peppers. In addition to a spice aversion, elephants are also terrified of bees. This realization has led to the construction of bee fences around farms to keep marauding pachyderms out.
Beehives strategically placed along the length of fences keep elephants out. Photo credit: Elephants and Bees Project.
Photo credit: AP/Gautam Singh.
Villagers in India have had recent success preventing tiger attacks by exploiting their knowledge of big cat behavior. Tigers stalk their prey and attack from behind, so forest workers began wearing masks on the back of their heads to prevent sneak attacks. Over a 3-year period, no attacks were reported among those wearing masks, while 29 unmasked people in the same region were attacked over 18 months. Unfortunately, the effectiveness of masks decreases over time as tigers become habituated to the disguise.
Animals don’t like getting shocked any more than you do. To deter wildlife from human dominated areas, conservationists commonly use electricity to create a lasting negative impression. Solar poweredelectric fenceskeep crop-raiding elephants out of fields in Africa, while wildlife managers in Alaska use tasersto deter moose and bears that have become habituated to humans. Conservationists in India have even tried to discourage tiger attacks by rigginghuman shaped dummies with electricity. While a sharp electric zap may sound like an extreme way to deter animals, such methods are highly preferable over lethal control measures.
While the elephants themselves don’t send text, their radio collars containing SMS chips do. Photo credit: Gizmodo.com.
Imagine getting a text message from a wild elephant. In the Western Ghats of India, a new conservation initiative has utilizedtextingas an early warning system to prevent human-elephant encounters. Elephant tracking collars embedded with SMS chips automatically text nearby residents, warning them of recent elephant movements. Before the project was implemented, a lack of awareness of elephant whereabouts played a roll in75% of elephant-attributed human deaths in the region. Since the implementation of the early warning system, human deaths have dropped by 50%, with none being reported in 2010 and 2013.
This wildlife overpass in Canada helps animals cross roads safely. Photo credit: K Gunson.
One way to reduce conflicts with wild animals is by guiding their movements in developed areas. Wildlife corridors, areas of preserved native habitat in human dominated regions, provide wildlife with a safe pathwayas they travel between larger areas of intact habitat. By placing corridors away from potential conflict hotspots, such as farms or ranches, animals can be steered out of harms way and instances of human-wildlife conflict can be proactively avoided.
Using GPS tracking collars and GIS mapping software, researchers can identify hot spots where human-wildlife conflict is likely to occur. These hotspots often coincide with developed regions at the edge of national parks, but the data from tracked animals can reveal individual movement patterns that may be unexpected. Identifying conflict hot spots helps to pinpoint ranger manpower and funding to proactively address the issue of human-wildlife conflict.
13 ‘urban’ brown bears were tracked in Anchorage, Alaska using GPS collars to study instances of human wildlife conflict. Each dot represents a transmission from a collar to a satellite, while each color represents an individual brown bear. Photo credit: Alaska DP&G.
Photo credit: Travel4All.org.
Poverty exacerbates human-wildlife conflict. A rouge animal that destroys an impoverished farmer’s crops essentially destroys their livelihood, so it is not surprising that such conflict can inspire outrage and negative views of conservation efforts.Ecotourismcan combat this reaction by assigning a monetary value to wildlife. Ecotourism outfits owned and operated by local communities, rather than corporations, can uplift entire impoverished regions by providing additional job opportunities and a boost for the local economy.
What YOU can do
Most people don’t live alongside tigers, lions, or elephants, but you can still do your part to prevent human-wildlife conflict. By following a few simple guidelines, you can minimize your risk, protect your property, and live safely alongside wildlife.
- Be proactive – Since most animals are naturally afraid of humans, conflicts often arise when animals become habituated to humans or associate them with food. Avoid feeding wild animals, securely store your garbage, and feed pets indoors to avoid attracting unwanted visitors. Fence in your garden, and plant unpalatable vegetation to discourage browsing.
- Be prepared – Before camping, hiking, or venturing into natural areas, learn about the animals that you might encounter. Let others know your plans before venturing off in the woods, and if possible hike with a companion. Above all, don’t approach or harass any wild animals that you encounter, and heed signage warning of potentially dangerous wildlife.
- Be patient – Some wildlife related property damage is unavoidable. Take a moment to breathe instead of getting angry the next time deer devour your garden or raccoons raid your trash. Remember that we share our habitat with wild animals, and that they were here first. We all have to share this planet, so we might as well get along.
Tags:Africa, agriculture, Asia, bear, bees, conflict, conservation, conserve, controversy, coyote, crocodile, deer, ecotourism, electric shock, elephant, endangered, flagship species, GIS, GPS, habitat corridors, hippo, Human Wildlife Conflict, hunting, India, innovative, lion, peppers, poverty, texting, tiger, wolf