Posts Tagged ‘Elephant Deaths’

Man Animal Conflicts: Tragedy of Human Blunder

Man Animal Conflict

An elephant poisoned to Death near Human Dwellings in Assam

It is habitual for a resident of odisha to pick up any daily and put fleeting glances on reports of elephant’s electrocution or pachyderms dying on unmanned crossings hit by speeding trains. These stories have hit headlines with such intermittent regularity that they hardly attract any attention of layman anymore! So what happened last week in Kotpad was something brazen and tragic and invited lots of wrath of people as well as wildlife experts.

Wild bears killed eight villagers within a week causing panic among local people in the small town of Kotpad.  The residents finally beat the ravaging animal to death. The incident widely reported in media engaged lots of wildlife experts as well as wildlife enthusiasts in heated discussion.

The news was instrumental in attracting attention to one of the most neglected subject on the face of rampant industrialization of odisha – The growing Man and Animal Conflicts. Of late the incidence of such conflicts has increased and includes animals such as elephants, leopards, bears and even Olive-Ridley Turtles! The very fact that such conflicts have increased in the recent years, calls for understanding the human-wild animal conflict with all its complexities and take a very sensible scientific and compassionate approach to resolve the issue.

To begin with let’s focus on some statistics! Reports from the  Orissa Wildlife Organization  suggest that during the 6 years period from (2004-05 to 2009-10) there was a total of 352 cases of human death, 132 cases of human injury, 3863 cases of house damage and 21768 acres of crop damage due to elephant depredation, and 75 human death cases and 671 human injury cases due to other animals like bear, crocodile, wild pig, wolf and gaur. On the contrary, 331 elephant death cases have been reported during the same period, which include 55 deaths due to poaching for ivory, 96 cases due to accidents (mostly electrocution), 49 natural deaths, 82 due to diseases and 49 for unknown reasons. The same statistics go on to establish the total number of elephant population in the state to be  merely 1886. Similarly the  population of other wild animals have touched alarmingly  low proportions.

The statistics obviously tell the story they are meant to! The cases of man animal conflicts have been on rise and clearly the animals are on the receiving end. Competing with human beings for the same set of resources that once provided them with their sustenance is taking a toll on the animal population.

Human beings have started encroaching upon the area that once fed and bred these wild animals.  Large chunks of forest land have been diverted for mining, establishment of industries, roads, railways, hydroelectric projects, irrigation projects and their canal systems. Linear projects like roads, canals and railways also act as mechanical barriers in the movement of wild animals from one place to another. The habitat of the animals is clearly stressed and as their “zones” get encroached upon by human beings they have two options – either learn to co-exist or resent. And in either cases, the brunt is borne by the animals.

Odisha can take cues from countries like Thailand and Myanmar if it is serious about reducing the ongoing strife between the animal and man kingdom. These countries endowed richly with forest and animal resources have built a viable social-economic model around them. These countries promote their tourism industry around elephants. And what is interesting is that the elephant population far from being threatened keeps on growing at a healthy pace there. The same is true for countries like Australia that boasts of Kangaroo and Malaysia that promotes orangutans!

In Odisha, we need to pro-actively find a solution to habitat related problems of the animal along with ways to save them. Forest officials need to stop deforestation and poaching on one hand while stop human intrusion into sanctuaries in order to address this problem. No doubt forest laws are in place in Odisha. But implementing them with strict supervision is what is needed at this hour!