Our wildlife plays an indispensable role in maintaining the delicate balance of our ecosystems, nurturing mother nature and thus sustaining lives. Every little thing that we consume as our means of subsistence is derived from this delicate balance.
It is primarily to celebrate the imminence of wildlife in sustaining life and for spreading awareness regarding the dire need to preserve it, the World Wildlife Day commissioned by UN is celebrated every year on March 3rd.
Killing of animals:
In a Lok Sabha session held in Feb 2021, Prakash Javadekar, Minister of Environment, Forest & Climate Change, stated that as informed by the Government of Kerala, several wild animals died in Kerala in a period of 1 year due to electrocution, hunting, poisoning, explosives, snaring/trapping, or due to being hit by vehicles.
Of the several animals, who died in the state from 1st January 2020 to 31st January 2021,11 were Elephants, 1 Leopard, and 1 Tiger.
The human-wildlife conflict:
The conflict between humans and wildlife is one of the most serious threats to India’s wildlife. It directly threatens individual species and their habitats by means of revenge killings, it also indirectly exacerbates other factors like illegal trade in wildlife that continuously threaten the existence of wild animals in India.
Retaliatory killings of wild animals is directly linked to the human-wildlife conflict in multiple ways. The human population influx & the large-scale conversion of forest lands into agrarian farms, rapid industrialization, and the subsequent encroachment and fragmentation of their natural habitat force animals to intrude in residential areas, making them vulnerable to inhuman practices and retaliatory killings.
Steps taken by the government for the conservation & protection of forests & wildlife and towards mitigating the human-wildlife conflict:
(As per the statement laid by Prakash Javadekar, Minister of Environment, Forest & Climate Change in Lok Sabha in Feb 2021).
i.) Under the National CAMPA mission, funds are allotted for the augmentation of fodder and water in forest areas for restricting wild animals to forest areas. An amount of Rs. 47,872.31 Crores has been provided to various States for promoting afforestation and achieving green objectives of the country during 2019-2020.
ii.) Voluntary relocation of villages from the core area of Tiger Reserves, National Parks and Sanctuaries is also being funded under the Centrally Sponsored Scheme: ‘Integrated Development of Wildlife Habitats’ as proposed by the State Governments for avoiding conflict
iii.) The Ministry provides financial assistance to States/UTs under the Centrally Sponsored Schemes of ”Development of Wildlife Habitats”, ‘Project Tiger’ and ‘Project Elephant’ for management of wildlife and its habitats in the country. The broad activities supported under these schemes include habitat enrichment and water augmentation.
iv.) The funds are also used for the construction /erection of physical barriers such as solar-powered electric fences, bio-fencing using cactus, boundary wall, animal proof trenches around the forest, etc.
v.) Directions have been sent to all States/Union Territories for undergrounding of transmission lines up to 33 KV in forest areas and also maintaining transmission lines to avoid sagging.
vi.) Under the revamped operational guidelines of Pradhan MantriFasalBimaYojna (PMFBY), issued by the Government of India (effective from the year 2020), States can provide add-on coverage for crop loss due to attack by wild animals.
vii.) The government of India has issued Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs)/guidelines to manage Human-Tiger/Human-Leopard /Human-Elephant conflict.