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Question – In India, “human-wildlife conflict” is a serious problem, which is harmful for both, comment on government efforts to resolve it and the provisions presented in Wildlife Protection Act-1972. – 26 May 2021
The hunger for development is destroying valuable wildlife. The frequent hunting of animals and the ongoing conflict between humans and wildlife has endangered the survival of many important species. The increasing human population, deforestation, habitat loss and decline in their prey species are some of the major reasons behind human wildlife conflict in India. The natural wildlife sector is overlapped with human existence, and various types of human – wildlife conflicts are responsible for various negative consequences. In such a situation, to reduce the human-wildlife conflict, it is necessary to investigate and diagnose the causes, which has reached a worrying level.
Basic factors of the problem:
Unplanned Development and Urbanization
- Extension of linear infrastructure projects (power transmission lines) in forest areas.
- Construction of unplanned settlements near forests and wildlife reserves.
- Displacement or obstruction of wildlife corridors due to increase in density of road network (national and state highways) in wildlife areas.
Use of forest land
- Use of forest land for non-forest purposes like mining, roads and developmental projects etc.
- Spreading agriculture to forest areas, causing damage to wildlife habitat.
Population explosion and shrinking forest areas have created competition for limited resources.
Government measures to conserve wildlife in India:
Forests and wildlife in India are placed in the concurrent list of the constitution. A Union Ministry works to give guidelines regarding policies and planning related to wildlife conservation, and it is the responsibility of the State Forest Departments to implement national policies.
- For the protection of wildlife, two new Articles 48-I, and 51 were added to the concurrent list of the subject related to wildlife by the 42nd Amendment (1976) Act of the Constitution of India.
- The Protected Area Network in India consists of Forest National Park and 515 wildlife sanctuaries, 41 protected reserves and four community reserves.
- Experiencing the complex task of managing protected areas, the National Wildlife Action Plan (2002-2016) was adopted in 2002, which emphasizes people’s participation and support for the conservation of wildlife.
- The Wild Elephant Preservation Act was first passed in 1872 to prevent wildlife from becoming extinct.
- The Indian Forest Act came into existence in 1927, according to the provisions of which hunting of wildlife and illegal deforestation was declared a punishable offense.
- After independence, the Indian Board for Wildlife was established by the Government of India.
- In 1956, the Indian Forest Act was again passed.
- In 1972, the Wildlife Protection Act was passed. It is a comprehensive central law, which provides for the protection of extinct wildlife and other extinct animals.
- The National Wildlife Plan was started in 1983 to improve the worrisome condition of wildlife and to conserve wildlife.
Certainly wildlife conservation is not only very important, but also an environmental imperative, but it is also true that the dwindling forests are not sufficient to provide full habitat to wildlife. A male tiger requires an area of 60–100 sq km for independent variance. Elephants have to travel at least 10–20 km per day, but as the forests become scarce, they move out of range in search of food and water. As long as forests are harvested, it will be possible to take preventive measures instead of avoiding human-wildlife conflicts. Under the Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972, compensation scheme should be introduced to protect humans and other living creatures from attack by wild animals.