The death of a pregnant elephant after she ate a pineapple stuffed with firecrackers near a stream near Mannakkad in Kerala’s Palakkad district has made headlines across the world. Thanks to our ‘Facebook Environmentalists’ have been continuously sharing images, showing their disgust towards the incident, which, according to them, is one of the cruelest examples of human behavior.
According to these ‘Facebook Warriors’, the elephant had been fed by the people with the intention of killing it. Also, the huge publicity this incident got makes us believe it was the first such instance, but in reality, scores of elephants are killed every day for numerous reasons.
Forest officers said there was no proof of the elephant having eaten the explosive filled pineapple, but it is a practice among farmers living in the forest fringes to use such explosive snares to kill wild boars. However, the state government has ordered a high level enquiry. In this context, it becomes important to understand the man-animal conflict.
Man-animal conflict refers to the interaction between wild animals and people, and the resultant negative impact on people, their resources, wild animals or their habitat. It occurs when wildlife needs overlap with those of the human population, creating costs to residents and wild animals. Let us look at some of the important causes of this conflict:
The shrinking range and feeding grounds for elephants cause serious worry. A research in Karnataka showed that 60% of the elephant distribution was encountered outside protected areas. The verdant landscapes are seen as nothing more than sources to be exploited for minerals and cash crops. In such a scenario, elephants and other creatures have little chance of escaping deadly conflict.
These conflicts have serious impacts such as crop damage, livestock depredation, injuries to people, loss of human life, damage to property, injuries to wildlife, animal death, destruction of habitat etc.
In this context it becomes important that we seriously consider the Madhav Gadgil Committee recommendations that have called for the entire Western Ghats to be labelled as ecologically sensitive and spared of destructive development. It would also be sensible on the part of the Government to stop all kinds of intrusion into the protected habitat of India and draw sensible compensation schemes for farmers whose crops get affected due to the man-animal conflict.