Man-animal conflict intensifies in Madhya Pradesh

June 1st, 2011 - 1:24 pm ICT by IANS  

Bhopal, June 1 (IANS) Man-animal conflict is intensifying in Madhya Pradesh with regular incidents of attacks on humans as big cats stray into inhabited areas because they are forced to move out of their shrinking reserves for food, say wildlife officials.

“It is a well-known fact that habitat of wild animals is shrinking and this is resulting in man-animal conflict. In Madhya Pradesh, on an average, at least 35 people are killed and 1,000 are injured every year in the attack by wild animals,” H.S. Pabla, the state’s principal chief conservator of forests (wildlife), told IANS.

The state has six tiger reserves, nine national parks and 23 wildlife sanctuaries.

A tiger had killed two people, including a woman, outside the boundary of the Bandhavgarh Tiger Reserve in the state’s Umaria district May 23.

In late April a panther had strayed into the Boat Club area of Bhopal.
It was captured and released in the Ratapani sanctuary, but another panther in Vidisha district was not so lucky. The animal was killed by angry villagers as it strayed into a human settlement and attacked some people.

“When any wild animal strays into human habitat, we think it is encroaching upon our land. But actually the situation is just opposite,” says Pabla.

The view is shared by other officials.

“If you ask any historian of Bhopal, they will tell you that till the 1970s, the heart of the town used to be forest area and tigers roamed freely there but since then, things have changed completely leading to man-animal conflict,” J.S.Chouhan, the director of Van Vihar in the heart of Bhopal, told IANS.

Wildlife officials also cite increasing development activities as being responsible for the shrinking wildlife habitat.

“Developmental activities are leaving an adverse impact on the wildlife and jungles, which are under immense pressure,” said C.K. Patil, director of the Bandhavgarh Tiger Reserve.

R.S. Murthy, director of the Panna Tiger Reserve, also noted the habitat quality of wild animals, including panthers and tigers, is gradually declining, leading to the attacks.

“Tigers stay in deep forest and attack only when humans confront them,” he added.

The officials are concerned over the state government’s decision to give land tenure deeds to forest dwellers. “This will only increase human activities in the jungles and will add pressure on the wildlife,” said a forest officer.

(Shahnawaz Akhtar can be contacted at shahnawaz.a@ians.in)

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