Sahyadri ENews: LXXIV
Human-Wildlife Conflicts in Northern Western Ghats, India

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Human-Wildlife Conflicts in Northern Western Ghats, India

T V Ramachandra,  Sonam Latwal,   Bharath Sethuru    Cite
ENVIS[RP], Environmental Information System, Energy and Wetlands Research Group,
Centre for Ecological Sciences, Indian Institute of Science - 560012      Phone: 080 22933099/22933503


Human-animal conflict occurs when humans interfere inside the protected habitats of wild animals and, animals move towards the areas which are outside their natural habitat in search of food (Lamarque et al., 2009) . Forest fragmentation will lead to the formation of different size forest patches with diverse habitat and ecosystem conditions. The movement of wild animals outside the forest for food and encroachment by humans inside forest areas initiates human-wildlife conflict. Human encroachment into forest areas, allowing livestock grazing and collecting forest resources for survival, leads to forest fragmentation and loss to humans and animals. Increasing fragmentation leads to an increasing level of human-wildlife conflicts (Ramachandra et al., 2018). Many wild animals are killed daily due to speedy vehicles inside forest roads. Commonly killed species due to road accidents are mouse deer, civet, dhole, wolf, and other animals of forest areas. Many carnivore species are easily attracted to small prey species such as goats, sheep, and livestock grazing is also a reason for human-animal conflict. Increasing human population near the periphery of forest areas the transformation of protected land areas for the development of agricultural lands, industries lands, hydroelectric projects leads to fragmentation of wild animal habitats and reducing sizes of forest patches. These transformed land areas are uncomfortable for wild animals as their needs are not fulfilled. In return, they attack the human population and result in conflicts between humans and wild animals. The conflict between humans and wild elephants is reported across various countries among all wild animals. Elephants cause crop depredation and raiding, and local villagers kill them in anger or self-defense. It is reported that up to 20% of deaths of elephants in three locations in India were caused by crop defense. In India, human-wildlife conflict is mainly due to forest encroachment inside forest areas for development purposes, an increase in agricultural land, and disturbance in protected areas by tourists (Ramachandra and Bharath, 2019) . This conflict leads to damage to crops and property of farmers and interferes in the forest, wildlife, and livestock conservation. Asian elephants, snow leopards, wild boars, and tigers are the main wild animals involved in the human-animal conflict. The conflict between humans and animals can be reduced by improving animal habitat so that they minimize their movement towards human habitats in need of food and water by initiating local training and awareness programmes to address people about the conflict by creating boundary walls around protected areas.
Wildlife Corridors
The increasing demand for land and natural resources has threatened wildlife and wildlife habitats. This threat initiates conflict between human and wildlife species. All forms of anthropogenic activities and interactions with the natural environment lead to change in the ecosystem, species composition, and climate change and, therefore, ultimately impact wild animals. Many environmental organizations and policymakers have proposed wildlife corridors worldwide to overcome these issues. A Wildlife corridor is a two-dimensional landscape element that connects two or more wildlife habitat patches that were previously connected but isolated due to forest fragmentation and anthropogenic activities (Gadgil et al., 2011) . For connecting isolated habitat patches, wildlife corridors are being used increasingly. Wildlife corridors allow the movement of faunal species daily and seasonal and have become a land use planning and management practice worldwide. Due to the rapid industrial development and increasing anthropogenic activities, natural forests are isolated and fragmented around protected areas, in these cases, wildlife corridors are made and used by various faunal species to migrate, breed, and feed (Srivastav and Tyagi, 2016) . The function of the wildlife corridor is to enable the physical movement of wildlife species which is decisive for their long-term survival.
Forest Fragmentation and Land Use Changes
Land use refers to the way humans utilize land area, i.e., economic, development or management activities on land. In contrast, land cover is natural surface, i.e., vegetation, water, and other physical features. Land changes result in the expansion of urban areas, which originates from undeveloped land areas and, therefore, affects environmental and socio-economic sustainability of the ecosystem (Figure 1), so there is a constant need for multi-temporal remote sensing data in order to check and monitor the expansions (Yuan et al., 2005; Ramachandra et al., 2017) . Fragmentation of natural forests and deforestation are the primary reasons behind the worldwide loss of biodiversity. Anthropogenic activities such as the conversion of forest land, over-hunting, and logging are responsible for forest cover loss, which is affecting the biodiversity, microclimate, and hydrological regime (Reddy et al., 2014; Ramachandra et al., 2020) . For sustainable development and utilization of forest resources, forest extent assessment is done worldwide to conserve forests and know the extent of their degradation.
Roy et al., 2013, reported that types of forest fragmentation and estimated that about 67.28% are intact forest and 1.64% are fragmented, whereas Dry (18.72%) and moist deciduous forests (16.22%) constitutes most of the area of intact forests and are highly protected with low fragmentation activities. It was reported that intact forests have 6660 species (3962 herbs sp., 1882 shrubs sp., 2072 trees sp.), whereas highly fragmented forest areas constitute 1125 total species (490 herb sp., 259 shrub sp., 444 tree sp.). Intact forests are highly conserved and less fragmented, and are endowed with a large number of endemic, medicinal, and economically important plant species.
Reddy et al., (2014) had carried out a study in the Eastern Ghats and reported that dry deciduous forests are the dominating forest types of Eastern Ghats with an area of 37192 Km2 (52.2%). They also reported that about 9.2% of semi-evergreen forests, which are found in the Eastern Ghats part of Andhra Pradesh and Odisha, whereas Andhra Pradesh has 17044 Km2 area under dry deciduous forests. It was suggested that forest fragmentation, rapid urbanization, agriculture, collection of natural forest products, and other anthropogenic activities damage the remaining forest diversity of Eastern Ghats and harm many migratory bird species and other faunal species.

Figure 1. Impacts of LULC changes
Human-Wildlife Conflicts
Wild animals and humans have coexisted and shared the same natural resources. However, mismanagement of ecosystems leads to deprivation of food, fodder and water to the dependent biota, leading to human-animal conflicts (Kulkarni et al., 2008; Manral et al., 2016) . Conflicts between humans and wildlife resulted from the growing fragmentation of forests and degradation of wildlife habitats.
Ratnagiri district of Maharashtra (15֯ 36’-18֯ 05' N; 73֯ 05’-74֯ 36' E) with a spatial extent of 8,200 sq. km and located in the eastern part of Northern Western Ghats (NWG). The district has a dominant population of carnivore species such as leopards, and herbivores - Spotted Deer, Wild Boar, and goat, buffalo, and cattle. Most leopard attacks happened during the daytime (60%) (Athreya et al., 2004) , in the forest area (71%). After collecting human-leopard conflict information from 284 respondents of the study region during 2009 and 2010, it was analyzed that many people experienced livestock loss. It was important to note that almost 56% of respondents wanted leopards around even though they suffered livestock loss, this was because these respondents were getting compensation from the forest department for the loss of livestock (Doniker et al., 2011).
Human and wildlife conflict is a challenging phenomenon worldwide where humans are affected economically. In India, human-wildlife conflict mainly resulted from carnivores such as hyenas, wolves, jaguar wolves, snow leopard, leopard, tiger, and lion species, and needs conservation throughout their range (Sekhar et al., 1998)
Radhanagari WLS, with semi-evergreen forests having an area of 351.16 sq. km, is situated in NWG of Maharashtra, and around 55 villages are situated in and around it. In order to analyze human-wildlife conflict over 30 years, i.e., crop and livestock depredation, human attacks by wildlife animals, a questionnaire survey was conducted in 189 households in 172 villages of 49 forest ranges in Goa and Maharashtra and monitored for 17 months during the survey period. It was recorded that 253 households were dependent on agriculture and livestock for their livelihood, so around 85% can only cultivate during the monsoon season due to water scarcity in the region (Joshi and Madhusudan, 2010) .
Livestock depredation was analyzed between the years 1971 to 1996 in Kibber village, which is bordering the Kibber Wildlife Sanctuary of Himachal Pradesh. After interviewing 80 households from three study villages, every household owned goat/sheep (95%) and at least one cow (89%). Villagers reported 18% (total of 189) livestock deaths due to wild predators, which accounted for 42.1% economic loss of the village families. Except for cows and dzomo, all livestock species, especially horses (37.4%), were killed significantly with a high frequency proportional to their abundance. The livestock and crop depredation by wild carnivores have increased during the last five years in the vicinity of Kibber Wildlife Sanctuary (Mishra, 1997) .
Madhya Pradesh state has the largest sloth bear population in India in an area of 135,395 sq. km. There has been an increase in population and pressure on the landscape; therefore a study has been conducted from the year 1989 to 1994 to examine human-sloth bear conflict and areas where sloth bear-human interactions occur by documenting the desired information obtained from indigenous people. It was observed that tropical dry and wet deciduous forests are the most suitable habitat for them. About 67.2.5 human-sloth bear incidents were recorded in which 6.5% individuals were killed during encounters, whereas 43% encounters were reported from 12 nearby villages. Humans encroaching sloth bear habitat led to 70.9% of human causalities in Raigarh, Sarguja North, Bilaspur North, Korea, and Raipur North. During five years, 687 serious damages have been reported from 13 PA's and 17 forest divisions of MP, wherein Bilaspur North forest division highest encounters occurred (65.4%) in crop fields outside the forest range (Rajpurohit and Krausman et al., 2000) . Similarly, in Yellowstone NP, USA, 1,27 human injuries from black bears and 75 from grizzlies were reported between 1930 and 1978 (McCullough, 1982) .
Habitat suitability for Elephant (Elephas maximus) is analyzed in the Southern part of Kolhapur district, which lies between 16° 20' N to 15° 55' N and 74° 0' E to 74° 30' E of Sahyadri range, by conducting fieldwork which includes interviews with farmers. The site suitability map for the elephant was generated by analyzing Remote Sensing data of 2005, which aided in developing strategies to reduce human-elephant conflict, protect elephants and humans, and minimize economic loss of the region. In 2004, two elephants came from Karnataka to the Kolhapur district, and elephant migration continued till 2012. Human injuries crop damage (2638 cases), were the incidents that happened due to elephant migration (Mehta, and Kulkarni, 2013) .
Habitat suitability for one-horned rhinos in Kaziranga NP was assessed (Kushwaha and Roy 2000) during 1967 -1998. It was estimated that tall grasses occupied a significant part of the park (61%). A reduction in the area by 23.6% was observed in 1990, whereas the wetland (locally called as Beel) area showed a decrease by 1997, i.e., around 27.4%. A corridor linkage between Kaziranga NP and Karbi Anglong Hills needs to be developed. The area surrounding the park should be merged with it to expand its territory and protect the species in the near forests.
Three corridors, namely; Motichur-Chilla, Kotdwar and Ramnagar of Rajaji-Corbett Elephant Reserve, having area 821 sq. km lies between 77֯ 00' and 79֯ 15 E and 29֯ 00' and 30֯ 30' N, were investigated during 1967, 1986, and 1998 (Hanna et al. 2001) . The study highlights that forest area of elephant habitat was reduced due to the formation of the reservoir area. Narrow corridors in the region are hindering elephant movements. Subsequent investigation (Johnsingh and Williams 1999) confirm the earlier findings of human interference, over-grazing, and lack of tree regeneration in the Motichur-Chilla corridor.
Study of crop damage and livestock depredation in the buffer zone (1612.12 sq. km) of Nanda Devi Biosphere Reserve (NDBR) and reported (Rao et al., 2000) that wheat/barley and potato were highly damaged crops in lower elevation villages (Lata, Peng, and Tolma village). Apple, walnut, and apricot fruit crops are mostly damaged by the attack of wild carnivore species, such as wild boar, monkey, musk deer, etc. They also studied the wild animal activity and reported that monkeys and wild boar caused 56-60% of total crop damage, whereas leopards and bears killed around 875 livestock in NDBR. Many households in the villages are dependent on agriculture for their income, and any form of crop damage (trampling and mortality) affects the economic conditions of the village families (Rao et al., 2000) .
Asian Elephant (Elephas maximus) population in Maharashtra districts has been reported in recent years, but earlier, it was reported from Dhule and Nandurbar districts of Maharashtra (Chitampalli, 1983) . There were three elephant groups reported in Maharashtra in 2013, in Chandgad range, Kudal range and Tilari Reservoir. From 2002 onwards, the elephant movement in Maharashtra districts was initiated from the forest ranges of Karnataka state. Mehtha and Kulkarni (2013) studied the elephant movement in Maharashtra's Sindhudurg and Kolhapur districts. They reported that elephants' crop depredation and human injuries were more in Sindhudurg than Kolhapur. They also reported that from 2002 to 2013, Maharashtra faced 10,200 crop damage cases by elephants and Rs. 90,248 were paid to farmers as crop depredation compensation by the forest department.
The current issue of Sahyadri E-News focuses on
⦁ district-wise assessment of land uses through the classification of remote sensing data of 2018 in the Northern Western Ghats.
⦁ Assessment of forest fragmentation.
⦁ Evaluation of locations of human-animal conflict in the Northern Western Ghats through data mining.
⦁ Understanding linkages of forest fragmentation and human-animal conflicts in the Northern Western Ghats.
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