Wildlife Conservation Efforts

[op-ed snap] Not Burning Bright


Mains Paper 3: Environment | Conservation, environmental pollution and degradation, environmental impact assessment

From the UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Project Tiger, NTCA

Mains level: Incraesing instances of Man-animal conflicts in India and what can be done to avoid such situations in future


Human-Tiger conflicts on the rise

  1. Tigers were subjected to targeted killings in two rich landscapes — Yavatmal (Maharashtra) and Dudhwa (Uttar Pradesh)
  2. The big cats were victims of the human-tiger interface conflict

Conflicts a cause of concern

  1. India is in a leadership position on the tiger front with almost 70 per cent of the global tiger population
  2. We pioneered tiger conservation with Project Tiger and by conserving 2.4 per cent of our geographical area as tiger reserves
  3. Such conflict situations raise questions on India’s successes

Reasons for the conflict

  1. Our tiger reserves, national parks and sanctuaries exist only as islets in a vast sea of human, cattle and unsustainable land use
  2. The stakeholders are many in this heterogeneous mosaic, from primary (local people) to secondary (government departments) and tertiary (business groups, semi-urbanscape)
  3. Urbanisation and growth agendas alter landscape dynamics, which has a cascading effect on the ecological dynamics of wildlife
  4. This results in ecological dislocation of sorts, wherein endangered wild animals like tigers either cause distress or land themselves in trouble
  5. Most of India’s tiger states have practically lost their habitat value owing to excessive biotic pressure
  6. Consequently, agriculture and cash crops beyond protected areas readily lure wild pigs and other preys, which in turn lure big cats
  7. The inevitable outcome is “conflict of interface” between wildlife and humans, which cause distress to people
  8. This “interface” is further influenced by urbanisation, rail and road transport infrastructure and intensive operations like mining or special economic zones — part of the growth agenda in any developing country

Outcome of the encroachment by wild animals

  1. Once wild animals earn a pest value, they get trapped in snares or succumb to revenge or avoidance killings
  2. This is more often than not through a silent method of poisoning using pesticides

Steps to avoid tiger killings

  1. The human-wildlife interface is here to stay
  2. While there can be no “co-existence” with tigers or elephants, a “co-occurrence” agenda with a proactive management control is available
  3. The National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA) has brought out several Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) to deal with various challenges of the human-tiger interface
  4. An incapacitated tiger or leopard has to be captured on priority
  5. A prime animal straying close to human settlements requires active monitoring and translocation to suitable habitat
  6. All this requires 24×7 monitoring using technology, management of corridors, building up the frontline capacity, creating village teams for reporting wild animal presence, and, an intersectoral portfolio at the landscape level akin to the “master plan” envisaged for an eco-sensitive zone

Way forward

  1. Human-tiger interface management demands proactive measures
  2. One cannot allow a big cat to get habituated and then brutally eliminate it
  3. It is a tragic end for our national animal, and a complete travesty of the responsibility reposed on foresters and wildlife experts
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