Championing Collaborative Conservation - Eastern Mirror
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Championing Collaborative Conservation

By The Editorial Team Updated: May 28, 2024 12:09 am

An increased national and international emphasis on conserving and protecting wildlife in the last three decades has paradoxically seen a spike in man- animal conflict. This trend has not only caused loss of human lives, but simultaneously hindered efforts to protect animals. These developments point to a gap in policy and planning that seems to have festered over the decades. The trend points to the fact that governance, especially good governance, requires a holistic and collaborative effort without which the problems will likely persist. Thus, conservation and its unintended consequences present one of the bigger challenges to India’s aim of inclusive development.

Alarmingly, instances of man-animal conflict have been witnessed all over the nation. The state of Karnataka has seen 618 deaths since 2010 due to such conflicts. Similarly states like Rajasthan, Maharashtra, West Bengal and Kerala have seen a concerning rise in such instances. These developments indicate that the question of conservation cannot be restricted to the mere protection of animals and forests, rather, efforts have to account for the entire ecology surrounding these areas. Multiple indigenous communities have been intrinsically linked to these eco-systems for centuries and their well-being needs to be a primary consideration while implementing policies of conservation. These communities have not only been victims of man- animal conflict, but have simultaneously come into conflict with forest administrations regarding access to forest resources.

To mitigate these problems authorities need to look into preventive policies which will bring down these conflicts. Till now emphasis has been on providing compensation to victims of animal attacks. However, it has proved to be an ineffective mechanism for two major reasons. Firstly, providing compensation after animal attacks does not address the underlying factors that contribute to man-animal conflicts. Secondly, the victims of these attacks have to often face multiple road blocks in getting access to compensation packages due to administrative gaps. Therefore, it is essential that the government increase efforts to devise proactive policies that address the central issues.

A good example of preventive policies can be seen in the Wayanad district of Kerala. Here the state government created a protected an elephant corridor of 2200 acre and relocated the residents of this corridor. According to a report by the Wildlife Trust of India the measure has facilitated unhindered movement for the animals and has contributed to an increased presence of other animal species. The efforts of the government to relocate the former residents have been majorly successful as an increase in the indigenous community’s income has been seen. The state government impressed by the success of this venture, decided to create similar corridors in Kerala, the success or failure of which may give us important feedback on the feasibility of this model. Irrespective of its viability across India, the Wayanad model proves that successful implementation of preventive and proactive policies is possible when the administration works in collaboration with the people.

By The Editorial Team Updated: May 28, 2024 12:09:16 am
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