This post has been self-published on Youth Ki Awaaz by IndiaSpend. Just like them, anyone can publish on Youth Ki Awaaz.

Stories Of Struggle From Parts Of India Which Witness Widening Animal-Human Clashes

More from IndiaSpend

By Deepa Padmanaban:

Bangalore: It’s the harvest season, and on the fringes of a south Karnataka forest, Muthamma (she uses one name) prepares for the raids on her fields of jowar, or sorghum, an ancient, nutritious grass that is raised as grain.

The raiders are wild herds of Asian elephants from the Nagarhole national park, outside which Muthamma’s ragi ripens in the warm November sun. They appear to be like ripened jowar, and for 14 years, Muthamma, a farmer, has borne their destructive visits.

Elephant electrocuted near Bandipur — Photo Courtesy: Centre for Wildlife Studies
Elephant electrocuted near Bandipur — Photo Courtesy: Centre for Wildlife Studies

“We harvest whatever is left,” she said, “Sometimes, we get compensation of about Rs 1,000 (from the government) for the crop loss.”

Muthamma is one of 250 million Indians who live on the edge of steadily degrading forests. One of the world’s 17 “mega diverse” countries, India, home to 16.7% of the world’s human population with only 2.4% of global land area, also harbours a diverse–but declining–wildlife. Most of this wildlife is found in and around the 661 Protected Areas (PAs), which include national parks and wildlife sanctuaries, spread across 4.9% of India’s total geographic area.

Conflict is inevitable, and it is growing.

Across south Karnataka–and indeed across India–the harvest is a particular time of conflict between human and animal. In less than two weeks, at least 12 elephant raids have been reported from villages on the outskirts of Mysuru, as the former royal capital of Mysore State is now known. In the past, elephants have even run amok on the streets of Mysuru, a city of more than 800,000, as this 2011 video of a man being gored to death shows.

Boar, deer quietly join the big-species raiding parties

Terrified or angry elephants and leopards–which frequently enter human habitation as their habitats shrink–make for sensational television, but lesser known crop raiders are the wild pig, or boar, and the chital, a gentle spotted deer, a five-year-long survey of protected areas in the states of Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan has revealed.

Since 2009, Dr Krithi Karanth, executive director at Bangalore’s, Centre for Wildlife Studies, a non-profit, has mapped conflict zones around five areas in Karnataka (Nagarhole, Bandipur, Dandeli, B R Hills, Bhadra) and one each in MP (Kanha National Park) and Rajasthan (Ranthambore National Park).

Karanth found that between 74% and 86% of households in these areas were in conflict with the animals that lived around them.

The idea behind mapping these conflict zones is to understand how human-animal skirmishes are unfolding, so they can be addressed. “When I looked at (the) scientific literature, there was very little data about conflict in India,” Karanth told Indiaspend. “So, I first tested the idea of mapping conflict in MP, and since it worked very well, I expanded it to several other states–Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka and Rajasthan. For management and compensation of conflict, it is useful to know how it plays out in different areas.”

The data indicate that although human-wildlife conflicts are now common across India, they are more frequent around the protected areas, where wildlife and humans live in ever-closer proximity. As these conflicts garner more attention, there is often retaliation against wildlife, setting back conservation efforts.

Lights, long nights and fences: The weapons of choice

In measuring human-animal conflict, researchers consider crop and property damage, loss of livestock, human injury and death, among others. Most of the damage centres around crop loss, which varies, depending on the season.

60% to 80% of households across the protected areas reported crop losses, according to the study, whereas 13% to 15% reported livestock losses. How do people living around wildlife protect themselves?

Elephant footprints in a paddy field — Photo Courtesy: Centre for Wildlife Studies; Banana crop raided by elephants — Photo Courtesy: Karnataka Forest Department
Elephant footprints in a paddy field — Photo Courtesy: Centre for Wildlife Studies; Banana crop raided by elephants — Photo Courtesy: Karnataka Forest Department

The survey found that 83% of households tried to keep animals away: 66% ran night watches, since that is when most raids occur; 61% fence their property; 41% light up their areas and 51% built stronger homes or storage areas.

What works?

The study found that only fencing and the use of guard animals were “somewhat effective” in reducing loss.

The authors said that only a small proportion of those affected actually report losses. People tend to request compensation only when the loss is caused by prominent species, such as elephants and leopards.

Although compensation procedures and policy are similar across the PAs, the authors found that reporting is higher in southern states than in central India. Also, for Kanha national park, they found that compensation was higher for households living inside the legal buffer zone than outside.

The highest raiding incidents were reported between September to December in Kanha and Ranthambore national parks, and from May to August in Nagarhole.

India has a traditional tolerance towards wildlife, but this could be changing.

When presented with hypothetical scenarios, the villagers chose to take some action against wildlife, both herbivores damaging crop and carnivores. Although frightening and deterring animals was the most popular choice, the authors don’t rule out the possibility that the respondents may have been reluctant to choose the option of killing of animals in the light of conservation and forest rules.

It’s not just humans who are under threat due to conflict, several species of wildlife are also at risk.

A recent study by wildlife conservationist Sanjay Gubbi found that 23 leopards were killed in road accidents from July 2009 to June 2014 in Karnataka alone.

Of these, 19 were killed outside the protected areas, indicating the threat from growing traffic. Leopards are currently classified as “Near Threatened” under the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s red-list category, a watchlist put out by the world’s leading authority on species conservation, and they are often the first victims of human retaliation.

A captured leopard — Photo Courtesy: Centre for Wildlife Studies
A captured leopard — Photo Courtesy: Centre for Wildlife Studies

Besides leopards, deer, sambhar, langur, and bonnet macaques were killed by vehicles. In another study, conducted in the Mudumalia Tiger reserve area, which contains several roads, including an interstate highway, 180 animals were found killed due to vehicular traffic between Dec 1998 and March 1999.

Rail routes traversing wildlife habitats also impact animals, especially elephants. Since 1987, India has lost 150 elephants due to collisions with trains. More than half the cases were reported from Assam and West Bengal.

Protected areas are important to wildlife conservation, often boosting animal numbers. But researchers said the small areas they cover, ranging from 300 to 900 sq km are not adequate to safeguard animals.

Visualisation by: Chaitanya Mallapur

newsletter-banner-1

This article was originally published by IndiaSpend.

You must be to comment.

More from IndiaSpend

Similar Posts

By Namrata Verma

By Ecochirp Foundation

By Bappa Halder

Wondering what to write about?

Here are some topics to get you started

Share your details to download the report.









We promise not to spam or send irrelevant information.

Share your details to download the report.









We promise not to spam or send irrelevant information.

An ambassador and trained facilitator under Eco Femme (a social enterprise working towards menstrual health in south India), Sanjina is also an active member of the MHM Collective- India and Menstrual Health Alliance- India. She has conducted Menstrual Health sessions in multiple government schools adopted by Rotary District 3240 as part of their WinS project in rural Bengal. She has also delivered training of trainers on SRHR, gender, sexuality and Menstruation for Tomorrow’s Foundation, Vikramshila Education Resource Society, Nirdhan trust and Micro Finance, Tollygunj Women In Need, Paint It Red in Kolkata.

Now as an MH Fellow with YKA, she’s expanding her impressive scope of work further by launching a campaign to facilitate the process of ensuring better menstrual health and SRH services for women residing in correctional homes in West Bengal. The campaign will entail an independent study to take stalk of the present conditions of MHM in correctional homes across the state and use its findings to build public support and political will to take the necessary action.

Saurabh has been associated with YKA as a user and has consistently been writing on the issue MHM and its intersectionality with other issues in the society. Now as an MHM Fellow with YKA, he’s launched the Right to Period campaign, which aims to ensure proper execution of MHM guidelines in Delhi’s schools.

The long-term aim of the campaign is to develop an open culture where menstruation is not treated as a taboo. The campaign also seeks to hold the schools accountable for their responsibilities as an important component in the implementation of MHM policies by making adequate sanitation infrastructure and knowledge of MHM available in school premises.

Read more about his campaign.

Harshita is a psychologist and works to support people with mental health issues, particularly adolescents who are survivors of violence. Associated with the Azadi Foundation in UP, Harshita became an MHM Fellow with YKA, with the aim of promoting better menstrual health.

Her campaign #MeriMarzi aims to promote menstrual health and wellness, hygiene and facilities for female sex workers in UP. She says, “Knowledge about natural body processes is a very basic human right. And for individuals whose occupation is providing sexual services, it becomes even more important.”

Meri Marzi aims to ensure sensitised, non-discriminatory health workers for the needs of female sex workers in the Suraksha Clinics under the UPSACS (Uttar Pradesh State AIDS Control Society) program by creating more dialogues and garnering public support for the cause of sex workers’ menstrual rights. The campaign will also ensure interventions with sex workers to clear misconceptions around overall hygiene management to ensure that results flow both ways.

Read more about her campaign.

MH Fellow Sabna comes with significant experience working with a range of development issues. A co-founder of Project Sakhi Saheli, which aims to combat period poverty and break menstrual taboos, Sabna has, in the past, worked on the issue of menstruation in urban slums of Delhi with women and adolescent girls. She and her team also released MenstraBook, with menstrastories and organised Menstra Tlk in the Delhi School of Social Work to create more conversations on menstruation.

With YKA MHM Fellow Vineet, Sabna launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society. As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Read more about her campaign. 

A student from Delhi School of Social work, Vineet is a part of Project Sakhi Saheli, an initiative by the students of Delhi school of Social Work to create awareness on Menstrual Health and combat Period Poverty. Along with MHM Action Fellow Sabna, Vineet launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society.

As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Find out more about the campaign here.

A native of Bhagalpur district – Bihar, Shalini Jha believes in equal rights for all genders and wants to work for a gender-equal and just society. In the past she’s had a year-long association as a community leader with Haiyya: Organise for Action’s Health Over Stigma campaign. She’s pursuing a Master’s in Literature with Ambedkar University, Delhi and as an MHM Fellow with YKA, recently launched ‘Project अल्हड़ (Alharh)’.

She says, “Bihar is ranked the lowest in India’s SDG Index 2019 for India. Hygienic and comfortable menstruation is a basic human right and sustainable development cannot be ensured if menstruators are deprived of their basic rights.” Project अल्हड़ (Alharh) aims to create a robust sensitised community in Bhagalpur to collectively spread awareness, break the taboo, debunk myths and initiate fearless conversations around menstruation. The campaign aims to reach at least 6000 adolescent girls from government and private schools in Baghalpur district in 2020.

Read more about the campaign here.

A psychologist and co-founder of a mental health NGO called Customize Cognition, Ritika forayed into the space of menstrual health and hygiene, sexual and reproductive healthcare and rights and gender equality as an MHM Fellow with YKA. She says, “The experience of working on MHM/SRHR and gender equality has been an enriching and eye-opening experience. I have learned what’s beneath the surface of the issue, be it awareness, lack of resources or disregard for trans men, who also menstruate.”

The Transmen-ses campaign aims to tackle the issue of silence and disregard for trans men’s menstruation needs, by mobilising gender sensitive health professionals and gender neutral restrooms in Lucknow.

Read more about the campaign here.

A Computer Science engineer by education, Nitisha started her career in the corporate sector, before realising she wanted to work in the development and social justice space. Since then, she has worked with Teach For India and Care India and is from the founding batch of Indian School of Development Management (ISDM), a one of its kind organisation creating leaders for the development sector through its experiential learning post graduate program.

As a Youth Ki Awaaz Menstrual Health Fellow, Nitisha has started Let’s Talk Period, a campaign to mobilise young people to switch to sustainable period products. She says, “80 lakh women in Delhi use non-biodegradable sanitary products, generate 3000 tonnes of menstrual waste, that takes 500-800 years to decompose; which in turn contributes to the health issues of all menstruators, increased burden of waste management on the city and harmful living environment for all citizens.

Let’s Talk Period aims to change this by

Find out more about her campaign here.

Share your details to download the report.









We promise not to spam or send irrelevant information.

A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

A Gender Rights Activist working with the tribal and marginalized communities in india, Srilekha is a PhD scholar working on understanding body and sexuality among tribal girls, to fill the gaps in research around indigenous women and their stories. Srilekha has worked extensively at the grassroots level with community based organisations, through several advocacy initiatives around Gender, Mental Health, Menstrual Hygiene and Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) for the indigenous in Jharkhand, over the last 6 years.

Srilekha has also contributed to sustainable livelihood projects and legal aid programs for survivors of sex trafficking. She has been conducting research based programs on maternal health, mental health, gender based violence, sex and sexuality. Her interest lies in conducting workshops for young people on life skills, feminism, gender and sexuality, trauma, resilience and interpersonal relationships.

A Guwahati-based college student pursuing her Masters in Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Bidisha started the #BleedwithDignity campaign on the technology platform Change.org, demanding that the Government of Assam install
biodegradable sanitary pad vending machines in all government schools across the state. Her petition on Change.org has already gathered support from over 90000 people and continues to grow.

Bidisha was selected in Change.org’s flagship program ‘She Creates Change’ having run successful online advocacy
campaigns, which were widely recognised. Through the #BleedwithDignity campaign; she organised and celebrated World Menstrual Hygiene Day, 2019 in Guwahati, Assam by hosting a wall mural by collaborating with local organisations. The initiative was widely covered by national and local media, and the mural was later inaugurated by the event’s chief guest Commissioner of Guwahati Municipal Corporation (GMC) Debeswar Malakar, IAS.

Sign up for the Youth Ki Awaaz Prime Ministerial Brief below