Human death and injury the dominant cost of human-wildlife conflict in India, says study

Published : February 23, 2021 19:37 IST

A study led by researchers from the Bengaluru-based Centre for Wildlife Studies (CWS) and the University of British Columbia (UBC) in Canada has found that “human death and injury are the dominant cost of human-wildlife conflict in India while inadequate state compensation remains a serious concern.”

The field survey, led by Dr Krithi Karanth of the CWS, visited 5,196 households living in a 10 kilometre buffer zone around 11 protected areas in Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Maharashtra. Collaborating with Dr Sumeet Gulati from UBC and other researchers, the scientists sought to estimate the human costs on conflict – damage to crop, livestock, and costs of human injury and death in encounters with 15 most common wildlife species in the country.

According to Gulati, the researchers utilised data from a large survey conducted by CWS across several regions of India to present a comprehensive assessment of damage from the main wild species of India. Gulati added that “human casualties contributed overwhelmingly to overall damage from wildlife interactions”.

According to research by CWS in 2018, the highest human deaths due to conflict with wildlife were reported from Assam (61 deaths), Karnataka (59 deaths) and Tamil Nadu (53 deaths). The scientists also found that families are not compensated adequately for the damage incurred due to interaction with wildlife. According to the authors of the study, the compensation for human death ranges from Rs.76,400 in Haryana to Rs.8,73,995 in Maharashtra. For the country as a whole, the average compensation paid for a human death is Rs.1,91,437, while it is Rs.6,185 for an injury.

Dr Karanth stated, “Our research found that farmers experiencing a negative interaction with an elephant over the last year incurred damage on average that is 600 and 900 times than those incurred by farmers with the next most costly herbivore: the pig and the nilgai. Similarly, farmers experiencing a negative interaction with a tiger over the last year incur damage that is on average three times that inflicted by a leopard and 100 times that of a wolf.”

In conclusion, the exhaustive study reiterates that conservation management efforts and policies should focus more on reducing human death and injuries from interactions with wildlife.