Wildlife Conservation Efforts

Where animals are dying by a thousand cuts


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Article 243(W)

Mains level: Environment Conservation;

Why in the News?

In the Terai region of Uttar Pradesh, the farmers are using razor wire and electric fencing to defend their farms against stray cattle.

About the Wildlife Populations in the Biodiverse Terai Areas of Uttar Pradesh

  • The Terai region in the U.P., encompassing districts like Pilibhit, Lakhimpur Kheri, and Bahraich, is known for its rich biodiversity, thriving sugarcane agriculture, and two tiger reserves.
  • This area supports endangered species such as tigers, rhinoceros, swamp deer, and the Bengal florican. The landscape blends forests, grasslands, and agriculture, creating a habitat where people and wildlife coexist.

What does the Statistics say?

  • During the 2022-23 fiscal year, the livestock industry accounted for 30.1% of India’s Agricultural GDP and 4.35% of the national GDP.
  • India’s farming practices involve a blend of crop farming and livestock rearing. This combined approach offers extra income and job prospects, especially supporting landless workers, small-scale farmers, and women in the workforce.

Constitutional Provision for the Protection of stray cattle:

  • As per Article 243(W) of the Constitution of India, the local bodies are responsible for cattle pounds and pinjrapole. Therefore, the State may also endow panchayats to establish and run. Cattle Pounds (Kanji Houses)/ Gaushala Shelters (community assets) to keep stray cattle.
  • Many States have established Gaushalas and Shelter houses for stray cattle and provide for feeding of those animals.

Present Conflicts and Conservation Challenges:

  • Conflicts between humans and wildlife are common, including tiger attacks and crop damage by herbivores.
  • Farmers near protected areas sometimes use lethal methods such as razor wire and high-voltage electric fencing along the farm-forest boundaries. The presence of stray cattle, or “chutta jaanwar,” has intensified conflicts and conservation challenges.
  • Stray cattle disrupt wildlife movement corridors vital for species survival and potentially increase disease transmission risks to wild populations.
  • The Unvaccinated stray cattle can transmit diseases like bovine tuberculosis and lumpy skin disease to wildlife, with cases reported in various Terai districts.
  • The degradation of productive grasslands in protected areas further threatens the habitat of imperilled species.

Way Forward:

  • Providing safe and comprehensive shelters: Construct adequate cow shelters outside protected areas to house stray cattle, preventing them from impacting wildlife habitats and agricultural fields.
    • Promote and subsidize non-lethal fencing solutions for farmers to protect crops without harming wildlife, such as wildlife-friendly barriers.
    • Invest in habitat restoration projects in the Terai, focusing on expanding and maintaining productive grasslands within protected areas to support wildlife populations.
  • Enhanced monitoring and management: Implement comprehensive vaccination and disease monitoring programs for stray cattle to prevent disease transmission to wildlife.
    • Strengthen enforcement against illegal cattle trade and vigilante activities that disrupt the livestock economy.
    • Provide economic incentives and support for farmers to adopt alternative livelihoods that do not depend heavily on livestock, reducing the need for cattle rearing.
  • Community Engagement and Education: Engage with local communities to educate them on the ecological impact of stray cattle and encourage participatory conservation efforts. Foster collaboration between farmers and wildlife authorities to develop sustainable solutions for coexisting with wildlife.

Mains PYQ:

Q Examine the status of forest resources in India and its resultant impact on climate change. (UPSC IAS/2020)

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