Conflict is bound to occur when a life-form encroaches upon others’ ‘house’ or territory. Man destroyed habitats of the wildlife, killed it and pushed it away to survive in small pockets of natural forest. Wildlife does not recognize legal boundary and intends to use its own areas, which are now occupied by man. Man complains about damage caused by wildlife, but how can innocent animals make their case? It is not correct to say here man-wildlife conflict; it is virtually, millions of people versus few surviving animals.
In the struggle for survival, wild animals were victorious before the growth of man’s civilized society. But they are now losers everywhere in the world. In the long run however, it seems, man is not going to be a winner in this game.
Bluebull, wild boar, wild ass, leopard and blackbuck cause serious problems in some areas of the state. Bluebull population has increased to over 60,000 individuals during the last two decades. With disappearance of scrub forest and grassland they started raiding agricultural fields. Maximum number of bluebull is recorded in Kutchh, Banaskantha, Rajkot, Amreli, Junagadh, Jamnagar, Bhavnagar and Surendranagar districts. Farmers retaliate by lodging complaints to the Forest Department and politician, as people do not believe in killing them. There had been farmers’ demonstrations in several districts, including one at Gandhinagar, against crop damage by bluebull. To resolve conflicts, once Forest Department issued license to kill some animals in some areas. A section of people opposed and the process was suspended.
Wild boar’s population in the State is as high as that of bluebull. They damage agricultural crops by digging and cause considerable loss to the farmer. Problems of crop raids by blackbuck are restricted to Kadi taluka of Mehsana and some pockets in Amreli, Bhavnagar. and Surendranagar. Wild Ass in the Little Rann of Kutchh moves to peripheral agricultural areas and grazes the standing crop. At present, most of the complains are received from Surendranagar district because the area of wild ass sanctuary adjoining some taluka of Surendranagar district supports maximum population of this ungulate.
In Kadi taluka, population of blackbuck reached 7,000 which is distributed in about three dozen villages. To respond to complains of the people, the Forest Department designed a project in 1998 and 1999 for capturing black buck. Local farmers were involved to grow fodder in large enclosures erected by the Department. The Government paid cost, including land and water-rent and cost of raising fodder. The Department and people joined hands after getting permission from the Ministry of. Environment and Forest for capturing 500 blackbuck at the initial stage. With great effort, about a dozen animals were brought in the large enclosure and they were captured after tranquilizing. One blackbuck died on the spot. Six animals were transported to Indroda Nature Park, Gandhinagar. Casualties continued despite the best precautions and last animal died after surviving for two weeks and none of the captured animals survived. This exercise was an eye-opener. Even after capture, the survival ratio of blackbuck is unpredictable.
Predation pattern of lion has gradually shifted towards wild ungulates, however, the lion still kills about 1800-2000 heads of livestock in peripheral zone of the Gir. Raids by lions have increased due to their increased population and their dispersal in new areas. Although the strategy to compensate monetarily for each livestock-kill has resolved the degree of conflict. People sometimes retaliate by poisoning lion’s kill.
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Except in the Gir forest, leopards in all parts of the state are dependent on livestock. They visit villages in search of water and food, which results into man-leopard encounter. Human killings by leopards are reported from Banaskantha, Panchmahals and Vadodara. Population management of this animal in its degrading habitat is now a major challenge for the Department.
Man-leopard conflict is becoming serious problem in some areas, especially in Panchmahals. Leopard killed total 55 people during six years from 1994-95 to 1999-2000 (11 in 1994-95, 5 in 1995-96, 21 in 1996-97, 5 in 199/-98, 11 in 1998-99 and 2 in 1999-2000). Although lion population is relatively high in Gir, only two persons were killed accidentally by lion during the same period. Similarly, 3 people were killed by sloth bear and 5 by crocodile from 1994-95 to 1999-2000. Thus, total 65 people were victims of carnivores in last six years. There were 44 cases of injuries to men by leopard in 1993-94, 39 in 1994-95, 62 in 1995-96, 96 in 1996-97, 97 in 1997-98, 86 in 1998-99 and 97 in 1999-2000, whereas lion injured 13 people in 1993-94, 8 in 1994-95, 17 in 1995-96, 10 in 1996-97, 10 in 1997-98, 14 in 1998-99, and 20 in 1999-2000. Sloth bear also causes injuries to people. Total 54 people were injured by sloth bear from 1993-94 to 1999-2000. Sloth bear population is not very high in Gujarat and hence rate of encounter is relatively low.
Lion-man encounter became a serious problem after the drought in Gir. Total 20 people were killed and 105 were injured by lions during the period from May 1988 to May 1991. In the past, from 1978-79 to 1994-95, total 220 people were injured and 34 were killed. Except a short period after drought, lion-man conflict is not very serious as compared to leopard-man conflict.
The details of Cattle Death, Human Injury, Human Death and Total Compensation Paid during the period from 2008-09 to 2011-12 are as under:
|Sr.No.||Year||Cattle Death||Human Injury and death||Total Compensation Paid (Rs. In lakh)|