A FUTURE FOR ALL – A NEED FOR HUMAN-WILDLIFE COEXISTENCE

  • A report ‘A Future for All – A Need for Human-Wildlife Coexistence’ was recently released by World Wildlife Fund for Nature (WWF) and UNEP.
  • It examined increasing human-wildlife conflict (HWC).
  • HWC-related killing affects more than 75% of the world’s wild cat species, as well as many other terrestrial and marine carnivore species such as polar bears and Mediterranean monk seals, and large herbivores such as elephants.

Important points:

Human-wildlife conflict (HWC) refers to struggles that arise when the presence or behaviour of wildlife poses actual or perceived direct, recurring threats to human interests or needs, often leading to disagreements between groups of people and negative impacts on people and/or wildlife.

Causes of Human-wildlife Conflict:

  • Marine and terrestrial protected areas only cover 9.67% globally. About 40% of the African lion range and 70% of the African and Asian elephant ranges fall outside protected areas.
  • In India, 35% tiger ranges currently lie outside protected areas.
  • Wildlife-borne Infections: Covid-19 pandemic – sparked by a zoonotic disease is driven by the close association of people, their livestock, and wildlife and by the unregulated consumption of wild animals.
  • With closer and more frequent and diverse contact between animals and people, the probability of animal microbes being transferred to people increases.

Impacts:

  • HWC can have detrimental and permanent impacts on ecosystems and biodiversity. People might kill animals in self-defence, or as pre-emptive or retaliatory killings, which can drive species involved in conflict to extinction.
  • The most evident and direct negative impacts to people from wildlife are injuries and the loss of lives and of livestock, crops, or other property.
  • The economic and psychological costs of living with wildlife disproportionately fall to those who live near that wildlife, while the benefits of a species’ survival are distributed to other communities as well.
  • When a HWC event affects a farmer, that farmer may blame the government for protecting the perpetrator that damages crops, while a conservation practitioner may blame industry and farmers for clearing wild habitats and creating the HWC in the first place.
  • Impact on Sustainable Development: HWC is the theme in conservation that is strongly linked to the SDGs as biodiversity is primary to sustain the developments, even though it is not explicitly mentioned as one.

Solution:

  • The goal of HWC management should be to enhance the safety of people and wildlife and to create mutual benefits of coexistence.
  • Holistic HWC management approaches allow species to survive in areas where they otherwise would have declined or become extinct.
  • All species on our planet also are essential for maintaining ecosystem health and functions.
  • The full participation of local communities can help reduce HWC and lead to coexistence between humans and wildlife.

Indian Scenario

  • India faces an increasing challenge of human wildlife conflict, which is driven by development pressures and an increasing population, high demand for land and natural resources, resulting in loss, fragmentation, and degradation of wildlife habitats.
  • These pressures intensify the interactions between people and wildlife because they often share living space without a clear demarcation of boundaries.
  • In India, data from the Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change shows that over 500 elephants were killed between 2014-15 and 2018-19, most related to human-elephant conflict.
  • During the same period, 2,361 people were killed as a result of conflict with elephants.

SOURCE: THE HINDU,THE ECONOMIC TIMES,MINT

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