The Western Ghats are biologically rich and diverse hill ranges that run along the
west coast of India from the river Tapti in the north to the southern tip of India.
It covers an area of 1,60,000 sq km, which is just under 6% of India's land area.
The current issue of Sahyadri E-News - LXXII presents the human-animal conflict associated
with the fragmentation pattern of southern Western Ghats. Southern Western Ghats
covers Kerala, Tamil Nadu and Karnataka with an area of 94882.92 sq km. Southern
Western Ghats are facing tremendous pressure because of degradation, deforestation
and conversion of forested land into plantation and cropland. The main reason behind
the pressure is change in land use, leading to fragmentation. Fragmentation is
basically a landscape-level process in which large forest areas are divided into
smaller, isolated patches. Human activities for other land use like agriculture or
plantation have the most severe cause of fragmentation and biodiversity loss in any
The land use analysis shows the predominance of horticulture in the Western Ghats
region of Kerala, covering 29.75% of the area. The maximum area is covered by
cropland, with 31.20% in Tamil Nadu and Karnataka having 30.55% of the total area.
The total forest cover of the southern Western Ghats is accounted as 39.2%.
Linking the fragmentation result with human animal conflict, portraits that with the
more fragmented area, instances of the human animal conflicts are high, especially
near protected areas or national parks like Bandipur National Park, Wayanad Wildlife
Sanctuary, BRT, Nilambur forest division and The Nilgiri. The major conflict animals
are tigers, leopards and elephants. This emphasizes the need to maintain continuity
of intact forests with native species (enriched with food and fodder species) as
well as water bodies in the animal corridors to prevent the losses associated with
the human-animal conflicts.