It is not uncommon that we come across news covering conflicts between humans and animals, especially in India. Such incidents are reported from many States and Union Territories across the country. The seriousness caused by such conflicts have reached to a greater extent and imagination, such as monkey madness in the urban areas, crop raiding by ungulates, wild pigs and cattle, and human being targeted by tigers and leopards. Property damage and killing of livestock are now seen as points of common conflict that we share with wild animals.
But surprisingly, in India it has been recorded that wild elephants probably kill far more people than tigers or leopards. The most recent incident reported was in Bangalore, where a school was shut down for a day after being taken over by a herd of 15 wild elephants. So what is it that is causing such dangerous encounters of human life with wild elephants? Earlier, most of these conflicts were noticed only in villages that border the forests. But now it has been seen that wild elephants are running stray in cities too. In another incident, in July this year, a herd of 11 elephants wandered into a stadium in the city of Roukela in eastern India. 300 people are estimated to be killed by elephants every year in the country and casualties on the other side are almost equally heavy.
So what does an expert have to say about this increase conflict between humans and animals? “It’s really not as simple as saying we have invaded elephant’s habitat, though that’s certainly part of the reason,” says Dr Raman Sukumar, an ecologist who has spent over 30 years studying elephants. The government on the other hand is trying their best to give highest priority to mitigate the problem. They are also supplementing financial services to the States/Union Territory Governments under the Centrally Sponsored Schemes of ‘Project Tiger’, ‘Project Elephant’ and ‘Integrated Development of Wildlife Habitats’.
What is assured is that the Government Acts haven’t been sufficient enough to resolve such dangerous meetings and such conflicts are emerging a growing concern across the country. Although, humans and carnivores have co-existed for a long period, the frequency of them crossing paths, has increased over the decades and it is time to address the issue soon before it is beyond any out of control.