More than 70% of families living around wildlife reserves face crop loss: study | health | Hindustan Times
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More than 70% of families living around wildlife reserves face crop loss: study

health Updated: Jun 28, 2017 14:21 IST
Villagers are losing lifestock and crops to human wildlife conflict and mitigation measures are failing, according to a new report.
Villagers are losing lifestock and crops to human wildlife conflict and mitigation measures are failing, according to a new report.(Sanjoy Dey/ HT File Photo)

New Delhi: For families that live on the fringe of forests and interact frequently with wildlife 71% lose crops to animals, 17% lose livestock and 3% report injury or death, according to a new study that looked at the fate of 5196 families living around 11 wildlife reserves.

“India is amongst countries with highest incidence of human-wildlife conflict in the world,” Krithi Karanth, a conservation scientist with the Wildlife Conservation Society, the lead author of the study that was published in the July 2017 edition of Human Dimensions of Wildlife.

In the conflicts, 32 species are responsible for most of the loss. The wild pig, nilgai, and elephant are associated with the highest crop loss and the leopard, tiger, and canids like the wolf and fox, were mostly responsible for livestock predation.

Karanth, who has worked in the field for over 15 years said that there is also gross underestimation of incidents of human-wildlife conflict. In 2012-13, about 81,000 compensation claims were settled in India, but according to Karanth, less than 30% of people are actually filing for compensation.

There is also a wide disparity in the way claims are settled and if they are eligible for compensation at all. As of 2015, only 22 states compensated for crop loss and only 18 compensated for property damage. Of all states, 26 allow claims for livestock predation and 28 accepted claims for loss of life and injury due to human wildlife conflict.

Losses to the families considered in the study amounted to R. 12,559 on an average for crop losses and R. 2883 in livestock losses. People who live on the fringes of forests across the country are usually extremely poor and heavily dependent on forests to sustain themselves.

The work also found that measures used by villagers to protect their livestock and crops are failing, and questions the logic of investing in these measures for families that are poor. “People may be better served by deploying early warning, compensation and insurance programs rather than by focusing heavily on mitigation,” Karanth said.

The authors recommend that money that is being invested in mitigating conflict should be redirected towards identifying vulnerable households and species that are causing most damage. “Before we go ahead and prescribe ways to prevent, we need to figure out what works,” she said.

What would also be more helpful for the families according to the authors, is putting in place standard policies for compensation and settling post-incident claims.

Wildlife Reserves with Highest Avg. Crop Loss (in Rupees) among 11 studied:

Bhadra, Karnataka: 24,687

Bandipur, Karnataka : 22,015

Nagarhole,Karnataka: 21,646

Biligiri Rangaswamy Temple, Karnataka: 17, 144

Tadoba Andhari, Maharashtra: 14, 183