Human-Animal Conflicts: Arikompan Case
Arikompan, an elephant from Kerala, was recently relocated to the Kalakkad Mundanthurai Wildlife Sanctuary in Tamil Nadu, which has refocused attention on the factors that determine how successful such operations are.
- The recent translocation of Arikompan, an elephant from Kerala, to the Kalakkad Mundanthurai Wildlife Sanctuary in Tamil Nadu has brought back into focus the variables that dictate the success of such operations.
- The attempt is two-fold:
A)to give the elephant a second chance at a life in the wild
B)to provide villagers peace of mind from the threat of attacks for food.
- When human interests and wild animal activity overlap, it can lead to unpleasant interactions and conflicts between the two species.
- It usually happens when animals intrude on human settlements or when humans and animals fight over resources like land, food, and water.
- Because humans overuse resources, there is typically a lack of resources in the forests, especially water.
Types of Human-Animal Conflict
- Crop raiding: Animals like elephants, wild boars, or monkeys may break into fields of crops and damage them, causing farmers to suffer financial losses.
- Livestock Predations: Predators may attack and kill livestock, costing farmers and herders money. Examples of predators include wolves, lions, and tigers.
- Animal attacks on humans: Under some conditions, animals may directly endanger human safety. Injuries or deaths may come from confrontations with large carnivores like bears, leopards, or crocodiles, for example.
- Habitat destruction: Animals may lose their historic ranges as human populations rise and intrude on natural environments. As animals go for food and shelter in human-populated regions, this may result in more contact between humans and animals.
- Road accidents: Road accidents can occur when animals stray onto highways and roads and collide with moving vehicles. This puts both people and animals at risk.
- Conflicts over conservation: Sometimes, efforts to save threatened or endangered species or their ecosystems lead to disputes with nearby communities whose livelihoods depend on those same resources.
Solutions for human-animal conflicts:
- Habitat management: By giving animals enough room to roam and limiting their contact with people, preserving and restoring natural habitats can help decrease the frequency of disputes.
- Planning for land use: Carefully defining protected areas, buffer zones, and wildlife corridors can help reduce conflicts between people and animals.
- Using deterrents and electric fencing: Animals can be kept out of agricultural fields or populated areas by using physical barriers like electric fences or noisemakers.
- Plans for compensation and insurance: Farmers and herders may find it easier to manage their finances if compensation programmes or insurance plans are put in place to cover livestock losses or crop damage.
- Community involvement and education: Promoting alternative livelihood options, educating local communities about wildlife behaviour, and including them in conservation activities can develop a positive attitude and lessen disputes.
- Translocation: Conflict mitigation and resolution Creating conflict management techniques, such as trained response teams or moving problem animals, can help reduce hazards and identify long-term fixes.Translocation may not work always as a long-term fix
Elephant Translocation Challenges:
- Recapturing or Deaths: Four out of the last five elephants released into the Mudumalai Tiger Reserve (MTR) have either been recaptured or have passed away.
- Cross-Border Movement: A few translocated elephants, including Vinayagan, Pandalur Makhna-2, and Crowber, traversed state boundaries and entered the Bandipur Tiger Reserve. The Kerala or Karnataka Forest Departments were able to recapture these elephants.
- Unfamiliar Environment: There is a possibility that the elephant from Hosur that was released in the Sathyamangalam Tiger Reserve perished after falling since it was not familiar with the area.
Rivaldo’s Case: Rivaldo, a tusker captured by the forest department within a kraal, was successfully released in the Mudumalai Tiger Reserve’s central region. He returned to his home range on foot but in a different region of the relocation area. The forest department was closely watching him as he did this.
Recommendations from conservationists:
- Multiple approaches: To reduce unfavourable interactions between people and elephants, conservationists advise a variety of approaches. The establishment of coexistence zones around elephant habitats where bitter plants like lime, tea, and coffee can be grown is one example of this.
- Restoration of Elephant Habitats: Restoring elephant habitats is essential for lowering conflicts. Elephants’ natural behaviours can be encouraged and the need for interactions with human settlements diminished by providing acceptable and ample habitat.
- Negative Conditioning: Elephants who penetrate farms and populated areas should be subjected to negative conditioning, according to policymakers. Elephants may be discouraged from crop-raiding by making the costs outweigh the advantages.
- Kind Solutions: Conservationists propose relocating elephants to elephant camps, where they may be cared for in a controlled environment, as opposed to frequent translocations that may result in trauma. The demands of the elephants must be taken into account and each one must be evaluated individually.