Pregnant Elephant's Death In Kerala: Man-Animal Conflict Comes To The Fore, Again
A pregnant elephant died in the buffer zone of Silent Valley National Park in Kerala’s Palakkad district. She swallowed a coconut filled with firecrackers and on further investigation, it came to light that the fruit was kept for wild boars.
Ever since the episode came to light, wildlife specialists and wildlife conservationists have said that this was just an extrapolation of the long-standing man-animal conflict. This has been discussed far too much over the years, but, well there has been no solution. And yes, signing online petitions is not a solution.
What we need is a well-planned nationwide a land-use policy which takes into account the needs and how the wild animals move around and react to situations.
For instance, a large number of animals who are vegetarian animals need a wide expanse of land to roam around and eat and owing to this purpose, conservation zones serve no purpose. Now, elephants have a massive appetite and hence, the farms and the enclosed attachments are almost impossible to contain them.
As per a report in Indian Express, farmers in Kerala have either abandoned cultivation or have stopped looking after the farms which are close to the forest as there are frequent raids by wild elephants, wild boars, and even monkeys.
A senior forest department officer was as quoted by Indian Express as: “Many plantations near forests have become land of fodder for wild elephants. New-generation farmers do not stay in estates or farmlands in remote villages and areas adjacent to forests. Loss-making estates and farmlands are unattended. The absence of regular human presence has made such lands a perfect haven for elephants. There would be enough fodder and items such as jackfruits in such lands. In the past, farmers used to take up the job of wildlife protection by preventing the entry of animals into farms. Now, that job has come to forest officials only.”
We have to understand that there needs to be a balance – a term that has been completely tossed away. Hence, farmers never go to the forests to agitate the animals and what the recent raid of elephants and boars say that the animals do not have the food or water in their ‘enclosed’ habitat.
Far too often, elephants have been pushed into tracts which are sliced away by railway tracks, roads, farmlands among several other habitations.
This is where the governments need to step in and look at providing fodder to the animals in the forests. It is thus naïve to pin all the blames on the farmers for the recent deaths of animals as cultivation is a massive and painstaking process.
Will things change? We hope, but we have always hoped!