International Conference on Human Wildlife Conflicts, Food Security, Livelihoods and Conservation of Biodiversity
Human-Wildlife Conflict (HWC) is a recurring phenomenon arising whenever and wherever humans and wild animals compete for declining resources, mostly around the habitat of the latter. In majority of these conflicts there is mutual encroachment of each other’s needs resulting in damage and losses to both including deaths. These fatal and damaging encounters are worldwide in occurrence and have been occurring since the dawn of mankind. However, over the past century, these conflicts have intensified due to the accelerated growth of development activities and the resultant expanded agricultural and industrial projects. The problem is aggravated by declining populations of some of the magnificent animals such as Lion (Asiatic 523; African-30,000), Tiger(3200), Elephant(Asian elephants-39000 to 45000; African elephant-400000), Rhinoceros(29,000), Giraffe(80,000), Polar bear (26,000) etc as well as by higher rate of reproduction resulting in surplus populations of some animals like Kangaroo, Blue bull, Wild boar, Red fox, Wolves etc. There are several other groups such as molluscs, marine organisms, reptiles, amphibians and several species of birds resulting in conflict situations.
The major impacts range from injury/death of humans and livestock, loss of crops affecting local and regional food security, damage to infrastructure and disease transmission. Often neglected issues are school absenteeism of children as they are engaged in guarding. Gaurding also deprives the man hours of a farmer which could have been used in other remunerative vocations. The stress of losing crops, livestock, probability of injury/death and the accompanying fear and rage towards the conflict causing animals many a times results in indiscriminate killing of wild animals thus creating hostility towards conservation programmes in general and the animal species causing damage to life, livestock and crops in particular. The other factors contributing to HWC are : Climatic change through its effect on the availability of water and habitat, changes in human values, attitudes and perceptions about HWC, inability of people and institutions to understand the problem thoroughly and consequent mishandling, and most importantly lack of balanced approach towards mitigation of problem taking into consideration hardship faced by the people living with wildlife and conservation of declining but conflict causing animals. The victims of this spiralling crisis mostly are the already impoverished indigenous peoples who are ironically the historical care takers of biodiversity.
The pace at which the over consumptive economy is growing places a high demand on natural resources and land for agribusiness, industry, infrastructure and dwellings reducing habitat and resources to wildlife resulting in escalated HWCs. Hence there is a need to update the approaches to mitigate HWCs and find local and regional solutions for each case of conflict. This approach has to be multipronged and has to take into consideration local history of conflict, the preventive measures taken, biology and behavior of conflict causing animals, traditional methods of mitigation, and include community participation after creating awareness and training them in the methods of preventing/resolving conflicts caused by animals. Focusing on these problems, our International conference on HWC will deliberate on the following themes.