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MAN ANIMAL CONFLICT

(A STUDY OF HUMAN-WILDLIFE CONFLICTS


IN EASTERN VIDARBHA REGION OF MAHARASHTRA)
YASH VIR SINGH, IFS
CONSERVATOR OF FORESTS (WORKING PLAN)
CHANDRAPUR (MAHARASHTRA)
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___________________________________________________________________
Abstract:
This study was conducted in the forest areas of Gondia and Bhandara districts in
eastern Vidarbha region of Maharashtra. The forest areas of this region are situated
between the Pench Tiger Reserve and Tadoba- Andhari Tiger Reserves and act as
corridor between these two meta-populations of tiger. The objective of the study is to
examine the present status of man-animal conflict, its causes and mitigation measures
to be adopted in order to contain the problem. It is observed that the forest areas of the
region are excellent habitats for the wild animals in general and tiger in particular.
Gond and Mandia tribals and other forest dwellers have been traditionally living in
co-existence with wild animals since ages. However the man-animal conflict has
increased alarmingly in recent years. The study reveals that the competition between
man and wild animals for food and water in the fringes and habitat fragmentation are
the two main causes of man-animal conflict in the region. The issues need to be
solved sincerely if the tiger and other wild animals are to be saved from local
extinction in this area. A few mitigation measures have been detailed in this article.
Keywords:

Man-animal conflict, habitat degradation, Habitat fragmentation, exgratia

_____________________________________________________________________
Introduction Human and wild animals both are integral components of forest
ecosystem. Their presence affects each other even in normal conditions however, they
live in harmony unless their interests come to conflicts and their activities start harming
each other. Here animals mean wild animals like Tiger, Panther, Bear, Bison, Wild
boar, Wolf, Hyena, Wild dog, Elephant and Crocodile which are potentially powerful
of harming human-beings or their livestock, crops and other property. Man animal
conflicts are manifested by such incidents as a human-being killed or injured by wild
animal on the one hand and any wild animal is injured or killed by a man on the other
hand. Villagers living in and around such jungle areas where wild animals also have
their habitat are most affected in such conflicts. The cattle reared by man are killed or
injured by wild animals in and around these jungle areas and his crops are also
damaged by many herbivores like deer, wild boar, blue bull, bison, monkeys and
elephants.
Eastern Vidarbha is a moderately thick populated region having good and sizeable
forest cover which is a part of Dandakaranya. Here tribals and forest dwellers have
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been living in and around forests since ages. Wild animals also live in these forests
even since prior to human beings. The conflicts between humans and wild animals are
not new. A seal (which is about 4500 years old) recovered in Harappan excavations
depicts a tiger below a tree and a man sitting on that tree. Because of competition for
natural resources, need and greed of the people; there is heavy biotic pressure on these
forests also and people have started penetrating deeper and deeper in the habitat of
wild animals which is giving rise to conflicts between them. Sometimes conflicts are
only because of accidents and without any kind of intention either by man or wild
animal. Therefore, Man-animal conflicts are on the rise presently and this is a hot
topic for news, discussion and concern these days. Almost every day, some incidents of
man-animal conflict are coming to the notice resulting either into loss of life of wild
animal or loss of life or property to the man in some form or other. Newspapers are full
of such incidents narrating stories of how a tiger mauled some person who had gone to
forest for fetching some fuel wood or some minor forest produce and such incidence
where a panther was poisoned by villagers for taking revenge or some bear is beaten to
death by villagers just out of panic.
2. Material and methods:
2.1 Flora of Eastern Vidarbha
The forests of Vidarbha consist mainly of Reserved Forests and Protected Forests.
However, there is a kind of forest found in villages of Vidarbha which is legally known
as Zudpi Jungle and it is found in small patches around the villages mainly shrubby in
nature from which it derive its name. Most of the forest occurring in this region comes
in the major forest type, Southern Tropical Dry Deciduous Forests as per Champion &
Seth classification. Following are the main forest sub-types.
2.1.1 Southern Dry Mixed Deciduous Forests (5A/C3):
Teak is present occasionally.

The main species are Terminalia tomentosa, (Ain),

Anogeissus latifolia (Dhaoda), Chloroxylon swietenia (Bherra), Albizia odoratissima


(Chichua),

Cassia fistula (Bahawa), Xylia xylocarpa (Suriya), Pterocarpus marsupium

(Bija), Salmalia malabaricum (Semal),

Terminalia bellerica (Behada), Dalbergia

latifolia (Shishum), Syzigium cumini (Jambul), Zizyphus sps, (Bor), Emblica officinalis
(Aonla), Lagerstroemia parviflora (Lenida), Cleistanthus collinus (Garari) etc. Bamboo
( Dendrocalamus strictus ) is also found mixed on quite large tracts of forests.
2.1.2 Dry Teak Bearing Forests (5A/C1b):
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Principal species is Tectona grandis (Teak) and the associates are Ougeinia
dalbergioides (Tiwas), Acacia catechu (Khair), Gmelina arborea (Shivan) and
Anogeissus latifolia (Dhawada) etc.
Table1: Extent of Forests in eastern Vidarbha districts of Gondia & Bhandara
Name of Unit

Gondia district (sq. km)

Bhandara District (sq. km)

Gondia Forest Division

1731.785

Bhandara Forest Division

884.994

F.D.C.M.Ltd.

327.196

273.196

Research Wing

4.783

Nagzira Wildlife Sanctuary

153.663

New Nagzira WL Sanctuary

72.877

Navegaon National Park

129.552

New Navegaon N P

122.757

Umrer Karandla WL Sanctuary(part)

40.582

Total Forest Area

2537.83

1203.555

Total Geographical area

5425

3716.65

% Forest area to Geographic. Area

46.78%

32.38%

2.2 Fauna: Carnivores are represented mainly by the tiger (Panthera tigris) and
Leopard (Panthera pardus). Other carnivores like Striped hyena (Hyaena hyaena),
Wolves (Canis lupus), Wild dog or dhole (Cuon alpinus), jungle cat (Felis chaus), and
Small Indian civet (Viverricula indica) are also seen occasionally.

Sloth bear

(Melursus ursinus) is also quite common. Jackal (Canis aureus), and common palm
civet (Paradoxurus hermaphroditus) are also found. Chital (Axis axis), sambar
(Cervus unicolor), Gaur (Bos frontalis Lambert), Nilgai (Boselaphus tragocamelus),
wild pig (Sus scrofa), barking deer (Muntiacus muntjac) and chowsingha (Tetraceros
quadricornis) and occasionally Chinkara (Gazella bennetti) are the wild ungulates.
Common langur (Semnopithecus entellus), rhesus macaque (Macaca mulatta), Indian
porcupine (Hystrix indica) and common mongoose (Herpestes edwardsii), blacknaped hare (Lepus nigricollis nigricollis) also occur in this area.
Table 2: Estimated population of wild animals in Bhandara & Gondia districts:
Name of species
Tiger
Leopard
Sloth Bear
Bison
Other herbivores
Wild Boars

Inside PAs
14
30
75
400
2500
Abundant

Outside PAs
4
12
45
100
1000
abundant

Total
18
42
120
500
3500
abundant

Source: Dy. C.F. territorial Gondia & Bhandara

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2.3 Kinds of Man-Animal conflicts:


The incidents of Man-Animal Conflicts can be categorized into following major
types:
i.

Human beings get killed or injured by wild animals in human wild animal
Conflicts.

ii.

Livestock/Cattle reared by man get killed or injured in human wild animal


conflicts.

iii.

Crop cultivated by man damaged in human wild animal conflicts.

iv.

Wild animals get killed or injured in human wild animal conflicts.

The wild animals involved in these conflicts in this area are mostly Tiger, Leopard,
Wild boar, Bear, Hyena, Blue bull, Chital, Sambar, Monkeys etc. In eastern Vidarbha
region of the state of Maharashtra where I have served, the population of wild boars
has enormously increased specially on the fringes of the forest areas where human
habitation is dense. There is a category of forest called Zudpi Jungle occurring near
villages of Vidarbha which is found mostly in small shrubby patches in addition to
reserved and protected forest which has become virtually home of wild boars. The
number of cases of injuries inflicted to human beings by wild boar is much more
than by any other wild animal. The crops like paddy, sugarcane, banana, pulses and
vegetables etc are badly damaged mostly by wild boars, deer and blue bulls in this
area which raid into the crops frequently leaving the owner farmers crying and
cursing. Reports are also frequently received of some strayed Tiger, Panther or Bear
taking toll of human being near protected areas of Nagzira Sanctuary or elsewhere.
There are incidents of tigers, panthers, sloth bears killed by poisoning by villagers in
retaliation.

Table 3: Man-animal conflicts recorded during last 3 years:


Human death

Human injury

Cattle kills

Crop damage

Year

No.
of
cases

ex-gratia
paid (Rs.
In lakhs)

No.
of
cases

ex-gratia
paid (Rs.
In lakhs)

No.
of
cases

2010-11

6.00

139

31.65

174

exgratia
paid
(Rs. In
lakhs)
11.97

460

exgratia
paid
(Rs. In
lakhs)
5.44

2011-12

8.00

73

6.35

202

14.64

462

14.34

2012-13

14.00

41

4.63

115

6.40

1876

81.68

Total

14

28.00

253

42.62

491

No. of
cases

Total
No. of
cases

ex-gratia
paid (Rs.
In lakhs)

776

55.06

741

43.33

2039

106.71

33.02
2798
101.46
3556
205.10
Source: Dy. C.F. territorial Gondia & Bhandara

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Some photographs showing the problem of man-animal conflict:

A woman killed by tiger


A man injured by tiger

A woman injured by wild pig

A woman killed by tiger

A cattle killed by tiger

Woman killed by tiger

Sugarcane crop damaged by wild pig


Paddy crop damaged by wild pig

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A tigress declared man-eater shot dead near


Sakoli (Maharashtra) by forest department on
12.01.2013 after two failed attempts of
tranquilization

Retaliatory killing of leopard near Adyal

A man killed by leopard near Umarzari

3 Results and Discussion:


3.1 Causes of Man-Animal Conflicts:
i.

Habitat fragmentation and shrinking of habitat give rise to shrinking of space,


food etc in the forest which is required for the wild animals which result in
animals stray out of habitat in search of food, water or shelter. This habitat
fragmentation may be result of many reasons, for example, Construction of
roads especially big Highways and canals passing through dense jungles and
the big mines. I have noticed Cheetals and Sambars in drought season fell into
irrigation canals of Gosi khurd dam which are passing tens of kilometers
through the tiger habitat and the animals could not come out and died there.

ii.

Encroachment in the forest lands by local people has resulted in shrinkage of


wildlife habitats especially on the fringes which has increased the pressure on
the limited natural resources in the forest areas.

iii.

Increased disturbance due to collection of fuel wood, fodder, NTFPs, water


etc. from the forests has also increased the incidences of man-animal conflict.
I have seen numerous incidences where the cattle graziers were killed/ mauled
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by tiger/ panther/ bear. The number of graziers/ wood collectors alone mauled
by wild animals is more than other types of human injuries/ death caused by
the wild animals.
iv.

Increase in area under cultivation around wildlife habitats and changed


cropping pattern have also contributed to increased man-animal conflict.
People have started growing commercial crops like sugarcane and banana,
which provide good hiding place for the wild animals like wild boar, sloth
bear and panther.

v.

It is observed that the local people have to go deeper and deeper, year by year
for fetching firewood and other forest produce for their bonafide use, because
of degradation of forests in the fringes. This has increased the number of
incidences of man-animal conflict

vi.

Infestation of wildlife habitat by the invasive exotic weeds like Lantana,


Eupatorium and Parthenium have resulted in decreased availability of edible
grasses for the wild herbivores. As a result, herbivores come out of forest area
and cause depredation of agricultural crops on the fringes.

vii.

Monoculture of teak in the large scale forest plantations raised by the Forest
Development Corporation of Maharashtra Ltd (FDCM) has also adversely
affected the wildlife habitat value of the forest areas.

viii.

Most incidences of man-animal conflicts are noticed during summer when


water becomes scarce. The livestock and wild animals have to share the
limited water sources on the fringes or inside forest. Human interference with
the natural drainage system in forest areas and diversion of water towards
habitation has further complicated the issue.

ix.

In some forest areas, the number of wild animals especially prolific breeders
like wild pig has increased beyond the carrying capacity of the habitat
concerned. Hence wild animals stray out of forests cause man-animal conflict.

x.

Decreased prey base caused by poaching of herbivores has resulted in


carnivores moving out of forest in search of prey and indulge in cattle lifting.
The Gond and Mandia tribals celebrate the Pola festival in which community
hunting is a tradition which is still in practice clandestinely despite the sincere
efforts by the forest department to contain it.

xi.

Sometimes the wild animals and human come in sudden contact and out of
fear of each other, they harm each other accidently.

During tendu patta


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collection season every year, such accidents frequently occur leaving many
tendu leaves collectors mauled or killed by Bear, Leopard, Tiger and Wild
boar etc.

3.2 Mitigation measures of Man- Animal Conflict: man animal conflicts


result in very bad effect on society as well as on wild animals. The family of the
victim is left weeping and helpless. Sometimes, the only earning member of the
family is killed in the incident. The farmers sustain big losses due to crop damages by
wild animals season after season which may force them to commit suicide. We
cannot completely stop Man- Animal Conflicts cent percent however, Man- Animal
Conflicts can be reduced to minimum and can be controlled if some of the following
precautions are taken and measure adopted sincerely.
i.

To control poaching : Poaching of wild animals should be stopped so that the


no of wild animals can stabilize at its carrying capacity which would reach
equilibrium in the ecosystem and this equilibrium between the numbers of
prey animals and predators in the forest ecosystem would be maintained.

ii.

To undertake SMC works in the habitat: To stop soil erosion and to


increase water availability in the forests, soil and moisture conservation
measures (SMC) like vegetative checks dams, loose boulder check-dams,
cement plugs, nala bunding, water tanks, should be taken in the forest so that
water regime of the forest is increased in a natural way which will increase the
productivity of the forests as well as water availability in the habitat. Then the
sufficient food and water for wild life will be available and the number of
animals straying out of forest will be controlled.

iii.

To stop monoculture and increase number of edibles miscellaneous


species: We should not plant monoculture of species like teak, instead we
should go for mixed plantations of miscellaneous, bamboo and fruit species
which will provide more food for animals in the forest. Hiding shelter to
animals as well as provide food for most herbivores.

iv.

Stop fragmentation of wildlife habitat and wildlife corridors: While going


for construction of dams, long canals for irrigation and Highways through the
forest areas, we should avoid the fragmentation of wildlife habitat and take
proper care so that the connectivity through wildlife corridors is not disturbed.
Animals cannot pass these canals and roads easily and they are localized and
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their natural balance is disturbed. Big mines can also fragment the habitat
hence to be avoided. We should also avoid the corridors of wildlife joining
one habitat with nearby habitat which is essential for their sustenance. Rajeev
Sagar (Bavanthadi) Project is a big inter-state irrigation project of M.P and
Maharashtra which is built on the river, Bavanthadi flowing along the interstate border. Its canals are very deep and horrifying especially when those
pass through hilly areas in Tumser taluka. By mere observation by eyes, one
can imagine how difficult it is for wildlife to pass across these canals to go to
the other side of the habitat. Hence the project authority has been directed to
construct 30 meters wide passages made of concrete at least at 17 suitable
identified locations as a condition of the project stipulated in the approval
under Forest Conservation Act. One project of widening of N.H-6, between
villages Lakhni and Sakoli is

withheld because it will cut the important

wildlife corridor which joins two habitats. The wildlife experts have suggested
to build many kilometer long fly-overs to facilitate easy free way for wildlife
under this to mitigate the bad effect of widening of highway. Due to huge cost
involved in this, the National Highway Authority of India could not do it and
this project is still held up in the interest of wildlife.
v.

Providing LPG to villagers LPG should be provided to those villagers who


frequently go to the forest areas specially wildlife habitats to fetch fuel wood
for their chullahs so that they may stop penetrating into forest and stop
inviting Man- Animal Conflicts. These people are most vulnerable to ManAnimal Conflicts. Maharashtra Forest Department has started in big way to
distribute LPG to villagers residing on the fringes under Joint Forest
Management Program and Village Eco-development Program which will go a
long way simultaneously to conserve forests and wildlife o and to reduce man
animal conflicts.

vi.

Awareness Raising People should be made more and more aware through
meetings and pamphlets etc that they should avoid going deep into the forest
areas. If they have to go in any case they should go in groups and they should
keep talking to each other to detract the wild animals. School children in
vulnerable villages should be educated about the importance of wildlife and
human co-existence with it.
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vii.

Solar Fencing around agriculture fields Agriculture fields situated near


wildlife habitat/forest areas can be protected by stone fencing or solar fencing.
Solar fencing has been tried with quite good effect in Wardha District of
Maharashtra. The District Planning and Development committee is ready to
give financial support to the farmers for erecting solar fencing.

viii.

Controlling crop pattern Crops like sugarcane, Banana, Bajra, tuhar should
not be allowed to be grown near forest areas. These crops attract wildlife for
food as well as good hiding place.

ix.

Paying Ex-gratia/Compensation to the people Ex-gratia /compensation


should be paid promptly to the victims of wildlife attack so that the people will
not become enemy of the wild animals. Otherwise people tend to take revenge
from the wild animals by killing them by poison, trap, hacking or shooting as
has been noticed in many cases. Govt. of Maharashtra vide its G.R no.WLP2012/337/F1, Mumbai dated 12 April 2013 has enhanced the rates of
compensation. Now, ex-gratia amount of Rs 5 lakh each is paid to the
successor/kin of the victims who are killed by tiger, leopard, bear, bison, wolf,
wild boar, elephant, wild dog and crocodile. Rs 4 lakh is given for permanent
disability and Rs 1 lakh is paid to seriously injured person.

Likewise

compensation up to maximum 12 thousand is paid for cattle killed by wild


animals and upto Rs one thousand for treatment of a livestock. The
compensation at different prescribed rates is also paid to farmers whose crops
are damaged by mentioned wild animals viz Bison, Deer, Wild Boar, Blue
Bull, Monkey and

Elephant. Public resentment may be pacified more

effectively by still increasing the rates of ex-gratia/ compensation.


x.

Relocation/Rehabilitation

of

problematic

and

disadvantaged

wild

animal: If a wild animal like tiger, panther, or bear has become disadvantaged
or problematic , this fact to be doubly confirmed and then only such animal
should be caught either by tranquilization or by trapping cages, safely. Then it
should be relocated in suitable habitat or be kept in a zoo or rescue centers for
all its remaining life.

However, it is not advisable to keep the stressed

problematic animal to be released near the problem area where people may
harm that animal. It is better to relocate this kind of animals by following the
prescribed protocols in this regard. Central zoo authority, New Delhi. Should
allow many more Wildlife Homes and Rescue Centers for such animals
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should be created near every tiger reserve and big sanctuary in the Country.
One such rescue home is needed near Nagzira wildlife sanctuary also.
4. Conclusion: Eastern Vidarbha districts of Gondia & Bhandara abound in rich
forests which are very good wildlife habitat for tiger as well as other wildlife. The
govt. should avoid diversion of forest land of this habitat and its corridors for any
other purpose in the first place. Encroachments in the habitat or in its fringes are to be
removed and to be discouraged. Local people should avoid going alone and going
deep into the forests. Ex-gratia/ compensation are to be paid promptly and timely
without requiring much paperwork.

A Wildlife Rescue Center cum Home is

required to be established near Nagzira Wildlife Sanctuary in eastern Vidarbha for


sheltering disadvantaged wild animals. Awareness raising to be done so that people
continue their habit and practice of co-existence with wildlife in this region which
will go a long way in protection and conservation of wildlife and in mitigation of
man- wild animal conflict.
5. References: This article is based on the field experience of the author. The
statistical information and the photographs have been provided by the Deputy
Conservator of Forests concerned.

A man mauled by tiger taking treatment at a Hospital


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