HUMAN WILDLIFE CONFLICTS The relationship between man and wildlife, historically and prehistorically has been often antagonistic. People have hunted wild animals for food all over the world. Animals have attacked agricultural crops and livestock since the beginning of agriculture and settled lifestyle about 10,000 years ago. Many wild animals are potential competitors to humans for food resources or threats to human life. Wild animals that directly compete with humans for resources such as food or water quickly become ‘problem animals’ are included in the “man-animal conflict” category.
Large mammals come into human conflict by destroying livestocks , property, crops and by killing people. According to NGO WPSI the man animal conflict has lead to nearly 20 elephant getting killed between Jan 2007 and Jan 2008 in elephant corridor connecting Karnataka, Kerala and Tamil nadu. In Nov- Dec 2007 at least five elephant deaths were reported from Waynad plateau region in Kerala and from Bandipur forest reserve along Karnataka Tamil nadu border. Crop and livestock depredation: – A variety of mammals like elephant, rhino, deer, wild pig and monkeys cause immense damage to crops.
Damage caused by wild pig is the most prominent one as they have a wide distribution. On a localized scale elephant damage is considerable. All cereals and millets are mostly damaged by elephants along with sugar cane, banana, mango, jackfruit etc. Besides this elephants also cause damage to human life and property. Carnivores such as leopard, tiger, and wild dog prey upon domestic livestock either by entering the settlements in the vicinity of their habitats or when these come into forest for grazing. The buffalos kept by Maldharis in the vicinity of Gir sanctuary form a substantial portion of food of the lions (Chellam, R).
Domestic livestock form 30% of the tiger kills near the Chitwan national park in Nepal (Mishra, 1982). Manslaughter: – There has been an increasing trend in manslaughter by animals. Several incidents of elephants and carnivores attacking people are common in several protected areas for e. g. in Sunderban mangroves. Causes of man animal conflict:- • Habitat and resource depletion :- more and more forest land occupied by people for settlements, agriculture , building dams and other forms of development has lead to the shrinking of the habitat area resulting in the compression of the wildlife population to levels beyond its carrying capacity.
When the carrying capacity is exceeded the interaction between man and animals is intensified in many ways. Small or fragmented habitats surrounded by cultivation are incompatible with conservation of large mammals. New settlements springing up along the traditional migration path of elephant herds are subject to damage before animal find other routes or restrict their extensive seasonal movements. The human exploitation of forests for timber, fuelwood and fodder degrade the habitat and lower the resource base considerably.
Bamboo stocks have been over exploited over much of the country’s forests for use by paper mills (Prasad and Gadgil, 1981). The decrease in fallow period of shifting cultivaton in northeast and Orissa has resulted in growth of invasive alien species which is disastrous for elephant population (Choudhary, L. , 1980; Sukumar, 1989). The competition between domestic livestock and herbivores for forage has affected the fodder availability of the ungulates which has lead to reduction of the prey base of the carnivores resulting in the increased attack on the domestic livestock. Optimum foraging theory and conflict :- Ecological theory predicts that animals tend to feed in a manner that maximizes their nutrient intake in minimum possible time (Pyke et al. , 1977). Hence cattle adapted to domestication fall prey to a carnivore far more easily than their wild cousins. Based on a study by Sukumar (1989) on crop raiding by elephants it was found that grasses such as paddy and finger millert provided more protein, calcium and sodium than wild grasses. The higher palatability is the reason for elephants to prefer cultivated crops.
Herbivores are also able to detect minerals such as calcium and sodium by taste hence they often eat soils rich in such minerals (evolutionary). • Animal social organization and conflict :- Many large mammals are polygynous and some males tend to have a large number of offsprings while other males may fail to reproduce. Evolution has favoured in such species a dimorphism between species with male being typically larger in size than the female. Hence the male of the species has greater stake in obtaining nutrition necessary for growing large and healthy.
The adult male elephant raids crops about five to six times more frequently than does an average number of females (Sukumar and Gadgil, 1988). The male elephant is also the chief culprit in cases of manslaughter. Similarly male tigers have to establish and defend territories if they have to breed successfully (Sunqiest, 1981). When a male tiger is ousted from its territory by arrival male it may move into peripheral habitats adjoining settlements where it is likely to come into frequent contact with people.
A study of man eating phenomenon in Sunderbans showed that 10 out of 13 man eating tigers were males and accounted for 86% of victims (Hendrich, 1975). Management • Barriers to wildlife movement: – Trenching the boundary of cultivation with forest is the most common method used in the country. • Psychological warfare: – Imaginative use of electrified dummies and masks against tigers in Sundarbans of west Bengal (Sanyal, 1987). Tigers were conditioned to associate humans with pain by allowing them to attack electrified clay models placed in natural settings inside the jungle.
Electrified barriers against elephants have been successful. • Habitat management: – Use of forest by humans and the agriculture practiced near forest areas have to be properly regulated. Corridors are a vital part of elephant movement pattern as they aid dispersal movement of individual animals thus allowing intermixing of groups and enlarging effective population size. Movement through corridors can offer continuous forested areas for free ranging animals and may ensure that animals do not stray into human dominated landscape.
Setting aside corridors for elephant movement has been advocated by many ecologists (Williams and Johnsingh 1996, Johnsingh and Williams 1998, Singh 2001, Williams et al 2001). • Animal population management: – A proper understanding of demography of species for maintaining viable population is necessary. In Africa, culling is practiced as a management tool to reduce conflict between man and elephants. Wet season safari hunting has been proposed in Cameroon to relieve the people and habitat from over-abundance of elephants (Tchamba 1996) • Social security; – Providing reasonable compensation to the victims of the attack of wild animals. Non-lethal action (Vigilance and Repellent Methods):- Non-lethal methods of controlling animals require a detailed understanding of the behaviour and requirement of the animal. Various methods are practiced under the category of non-lethal actions, such as vigilance, translocation, elephant drives, repellents and deterrents. This is one of the traditional methods used by farmers all around the world wherein chances of spotting the elephants entering the crop field are improved by various means or ways to deter elephants. The different techniques used are listed below. Buffer zones: Farmers clear a five meter wide buffer zone around their fields or along the edge of the whole village to increase sightings of advancing elephants (Seidensticker 1997). ? Carbide Canons: Farmers use carbide shots to make a loud noise that scares the elephants. At times air rifles are shot in the air to scare the animals. ? Cowbells: Strings of cowbells, tins, and paper ribbons are placed at 30 m intervals along a string fence to alert farmers when elephants enter the fields. ? Fires: Farmers keep fires burning all night in areas where elephants come regularly.
These fires are also used to burn pepper dung whose smoke irritates the elephants. Another method used in Africa is burning Chinese Bamboo, which has cavities inside that explode on burning. The sound of explosions drives away the elephants. ? Firecrackers: Farmers use firecrackers to chase elephants from the fields by throwing them above the animals. This is one of the most common methods. ? Night Patrol: In many places farmers patrol the area throughout the night to guard their fields. ? Pepper dung: Elephant dung is mixed with ground chillies by the farmers then dried in the sun.
These bricks are burned in fires along the field boundaries to create a noxious smoke that apparently irritates the animals and keeps them away. ? Trip Alarm System: This alarm system can be mounted on existing fence or onto trees and poles with a cord attached to a trip switch. The alarm is triggered when the animals pulls on the cord while entering the field . ? Watchtowers: Farmers with fields on the forest boundary build watchtowers at approximately half-kilometer intervals to increase their vigilance capacity ?
Whistles: Farmers blow whistles on sighting elephants to alert other farmers when elephants approach the fields. ? Whips: Whips made of bark are made by the farmers that, when used properly, make a loud crack similar to a gunshot and elephants are observed to be scared off by the sound (Osborn and Parker 2002) Case Studies 1. Human-elephant conflict in the southern western Ghats: A case study from the Peppara Wildlife Sancutary, Kerala, India E. A. JAYSON AND G. CHRISTOPHER
Human-elephant conflict in Peppara Wildlife Sanctuary (8o 34′ to 8o 42′ N and 77o 7′ to 77o 14′ E) and adjacent areas was studied based on observational methods during the year 1993 to 1996 as a part of project studying the large mammals in the sanctuary. Major animals engaged in crop damage were wild boar and elephant. The animals involved in crop damage were mainly lone males, in the case of elephants and most of the raids were at night. It was observed that substantial amount of crop was damaged as compared to what was consumed by the animals.
Coconut was mainly damaged by elephants and the damage was confined to the trees less than 20 years. Coconut trees less than 10 years were pushed down and the central rachis and shoots were consumed. Plantains were also attacked by elephants, the leaves were discarded and the central portion of the stem consumed. Elephant also destroyed paddy, rubber and pineapple by trampling. While damage by wild boar was recorded throughout the year, the attack from elephants was related to the species of crops cultivated. Besides crop damage instances, four human slaughters were also recorded.
Crop damage is linked to the cropping pattern and location of settlements and it is one of the problems, which severely deprive the economic status of tribals. 2. Man Animal Conflict in Kerala E. A. JAYSON Based on a study by KFRI in Kerala with special emphasis on Marayur range it was found that the major crops destroyed by wild animals in kerala were paddy, coconut, plantain, arecanut, coffee, tea, rubber, cashew, oil palm, pepper, mango, jack tree, sugarcane, cassava, mulberry, lemon, colocassia sp, alocassia sp, ginger, sweet potato, lemon grass, beans, cardamomum, clove, cocoa, guava, pineapple and red grams.
The survey showed that maximum crop damage was in Waynad WLS followed by Waynad north, Waynad south, Kozhikode and Munnar forest division. Less destruction of crop was recorded in Kannur, Nilambur south, Nilambur north, Manarkkad, Ranni division and in Idukki and Trivandrum wildlife divisions. Only little harm was reported from Mankulam, Thenmala, Palakkad , Vazhachal, Chalakudi, Thrissur and Malayattur division. Elephant, wild boar, Indian porcupine, gaur, sambar, Bonnet macaque, common langur, barking deer, mouse deer, black naped hare, Malabar giant squirrel and peafowl were causing damage to agricultural crops all over Kerala.
Wild boar damaged tapioca, sweet potato and lemon grass. Gaur was involved in damage of sugarcane, mulberry, paddy and other cash crops in Marayur. In Neyyar and Peppara WLS and ABP wild boar, elephant, mouse deer and barking deer were causing severe damage. Sambar was damaging crops in Manarkkad range and elephants were causing problems to crops in Agali and Attapady ranges. Many control methods are employed for preventing crop damage by wild animals in Kerala which are classified as traditional and modern methods.
Traditional methods are guarding from watch towers, simple fences using iron wire, sound produced from old metallic objects, fire, stray dogs, scaring with clothes, erecting stone walls, bar soaps, kerosene etc. line wire fences and electric fences are considered as modern methods. 3. Man-Elephant Conflict Problem: A Case Study J. Borah1, K. Thakuria, K. K. Baruah, N. K. Sarma, and K. Deka The study was conducted at Rani forest range, Kamrup district, Assam, India. Causes of man-elephant conflict in the study area: Besides the usual causes like habitat destruction, encroachment of people, increase activities in forest byhumans, etc. the following reasons were the main causes of increase man-elephant conflict in the study area. 1. Presence of country liquors: – It was observed that in the study area almost all the people make country liquor in their homes for commercial purposes. Elephants are also seemed to be fond of this liquor. When they get the smell of the liquor they tore down a house in search of the liquor. 2. Presence of the Deepor beel: – The Deepor beel is the perennial water source for the elephants. Elephants usually come to this beel round the year to meet their water requirement for drinking, bathing and to eat the aquatic plants.
During crossover to the beel from forest, there was depredation by elephants. 3. Unscientific methods to scare away elephants: – This was one of important cause in the study area due to which men were killed. It was usually seen that when a herd comes to raid an agricultural field, people try different ways to scare away the elephants. Some fire crackers, while others throw stones or shouts at them from different places. The elephant herd breaks due to so much noise and in the process some men comes in front of the elephant and gets killed. 4. Study on man wildlife interactions in Waynad WLS, Kerala EASA (KFRI)
The people of Waynad are predominantly agriculturists and cultivation is major source of income. Crop damage is as severe problem in most of the settlements. Elephant and wild boar were the most damaging ones. Cattle lifting were more in enclosures than periphery and away from the forest. About 73% of human death reported was inside the forest, 36% near the forests and 9% on the roads. House damage in enclosures was higher than periphery and away from the forests. 5. An ecological study in the buffer zone of the Corbett tiger reserve : tiger abundance and cattle depredation Kumar,S. , Khan, J. A. , Khan, A. , Musavi, A. , Malik, P.
K. , Kushwaha, S. P. S. , Khati, S. D and Sarin, G. D. 2008. An ecological study in the buffer zone of the Corbett tiger reserve: Tiger abundance and cattle depredation. International. J. Ecol. Environ. Sci. 34(2):133-140. A total of 61% livestock kills and 18. 6% injuries were by tigers alone in and around buffer zone. While 30. 5% livestock kills were recorded inside the buffer zone boundary, 69. 5% livestock kills were recorded from outside the buffer. The number of livestock kills showed substantial increase in rainy season as compared to winter and summer. Tigers killed significantly higher number of cows than buffalo in buffer zone.
References Choudary, D. K. 1980. An interim report on status and distribution of elephants in north east India. (Eds) J. C. Daniel, The status of Asian elephants in Indian subcontinent, IUCN report, BNHS. 43-58pp. Hendrichs, H. , 1975. Status of tiger Panthera tigris in the sundarban mangrove forest. Saugetieri kundliche mitteilunger. 23:161-199. Prased, S. N. , Gadgil, M. 1981. Conservation of Bamboo resources of Karnataka. Karnataka state council for science and technology. 40-60pp. Sukumar, R. 1990. Ecology of asian elephants in southern India. Feeding habits and crop raiding patterns. J. Trop. Ecol. 6:33-53.