Uttarakhand to start ₹39crore man-wildlife conflict mitigation project
Uttarakhand Forest department has started an ambitious ₹ 39 crore man-wildlife conflict mitigation project which will roll out various measures in the Himalayan state.
According to forest officials, over 280 km-long fencing will be set in different parts of the state at a cost of over ₹ 18 crore. Also, 1,393 km elephant-proof trenches will be built areas in areas frequented by the pachyderms at a cost of ₹ 4.4 crore. Both fencing and trenches will act as barriers, preventing wildlife to sneak into residential areas.
Principal chief conservator of forests (PCCF) Rajiv Bhartari said the ministry of environment, forests and climate change has provided ₹ 39.7 crore under CAMPA (Compensatory Afforestation Fund Management and Planning Authority (CAMPA) fund to the state forest department for man-wildlife conflict mitigation. “This is for the time that the range of the mitigation measures has been scaled up in the state,” he said.
Bhartari said ₹ 5 crore will be spent on construction and maintenance of six animal rescue and rehabilitation centres, ₹ 5 crore on four monkey rescue centres and ₹ 1.55 crore for food of wild animals at these rescue centres
“Apart from this, ₹ 1.9 crore will be spent on developing village protection force and ₹ 0.65 crore on the strengthening of voluntary village wildlife protection force.
Uttarakhand primarily reports man-leopard, man-elephant and man-monkey conflicts. Since the formation of the state in 2000, at least 800 people have been killed in man-wildlife conflict, with deaths due to leopard attacks accounting for nearly half of the total toll, reveals state forest department data.
A considerable number of man-eating leopards have also been shot dead by hunters engaged by the forest department. According to The Status of Leopards in India report released in December last year, Uttarakhand reported the maximum number of leopards (839) in tiger habitations among Shivalik hills and Gangetic plains landscape, followed by 316 in Uttar Pradesh and 98 in Bihar. The report had pointed out that, “there is an increasing need for corridor connectivity, and improvement of habitat, to reduce interface with humans and thereby reducing the chance of conflict.”
As per the records of the state forest department, the last state-wide leopard estimation exercise was conducted in 2008, when the state reported 2,335 leopards.
In July this year, the state forest department also released instructions for checking and dealing with the man-leopard conflict in the Himalayan state. The directions issued stated that quick response teams be deployed in such areas where leopard movement is spotted and leopard attacks are being reported.
Elephants in Uttarakhand’s Corbett landscape, Rajaji National Park landscape and Tarai areas have been a major concern for wildlife officials here. They regularly create ruckus in and around Haridwar, Nainital, US Nagar districts, leading to traffic interruptions and damage to vehicles. Apart from human loss of life, elephants also get killed due to electrocution and in train-hits. A 40-year-old elephant was found dead in the Tanda forest range of Kumaon on September 8 this year. On August 18, two elephants died in a train-hit accident in Peepal Padao forest range of Kumaon. On March 18, an elephant was found dead in the Terai forest division. On March 5, a 20-year-old jumbo was found dead in Corbett Tiger Reserve.
Uttarakhand has over 2,026 elephants, according to the census held last year, with the state recording a 29.9% increase in the numbers since 2015.
Uttarakhand has an estimated monkey population of about 150,000, according to forest officials. Out of these, 48,115 monkeys have been sterilised till 2020-21. With a large percentage of the hill state under forest cover, monkeys often come near human habitations, roads and tourist spots in search of easy food. Given the limited scope for farming in the hilly state, monkeys have become enemies in the eyes of farmers. In the past, farmers in some areas of Kumaon even started agitations against the monkey menace, saying whatever little farm produce they have is destroyed by monkeys.
Last year, the state government decided to create four open forest enclosures spread over 70 hectares with a capacity to house over 25,000 monkeys in Haridwar, Nainital, Almora and Pithoragarh districts respectively to check the growing simian menace in the state