The issue of human-wildlife conflict has become rampant posing indisputable threat both to animals and humans. Therefore, the time has come to look for more practical and pragmatic solutions to this issue which has been nagging us for as long as our failing memories can retain.
Wildlife can pose a direct threat to the safety or livelihood of people by killing the livestock, damaging crops or property and attacking people. When such incidences become recurring issues, retaliation against these species often ensues leading to conflicts on what should be done to remedy the situation.
Although this is certainly not a new scenario – people and wildlife have co-existed for millennia – it is one which appears in recent years to be much more frequent, more serious, and widespread across the country especially in southern parts of the country. It has become a national concern for conservation and development alike.
Though human-wildlife conflict cannot be rooted out, the frequency of conflicts are increasing because of rising human populations and developmental activities across the country. The other reason is due to rural-urban migration where forests are turned into agricultural lands nearby the human settlement areas.
In addition, there are so many underlying issues feeding into any one conflict. Sadly, despite the tried solutions, the issue still remains grim in reality.
A few months back, a woman was killed in Lhamoizingkha by an elephant. There were also incidents that elephants had entered in Samdrup Jongkhar town and in Tashichoeling gewog in Samtse.
In another incident, a tiger killed a pregnant cow at Nabji in Korphu Gewog, Trongsa this week and also attacked domestic animals in the community.
Till now people had been tolerating extreme losses from the presence of wildlife despite living in poverty, while others experience negligible economic losses.
Human-wildlife conflict is beginning to appear in national policies and strategies for wildlife; however, there are no much practical beneficial solutions while there is also conflict with biodiversity conservation laws.
Conservation today is often an uphill battle, and solutions to human-wildlife conflicts can be elusive.
There is a need to come up with particular strategies that benefits both the animals and local human communities, and actively involves the local communities.
Compensation or insurance for animal-induced damage should also be a prime focus and a solution the Ministry of Agriculture and Forests could ponder upon.
Human wildlife conflict is a complex issue requiring multiple solutions, perspectives, and collaboration. However, it is a task worth pursuing given the massive damage it inflicts on the growth of local sustenance farmers in the country.