Friday, July 3, 2020

Monitoring and Addressing Human-Wildlife Conflict to the Benefit All


● Human-wildlife conflict (HWC) incidents, arising from human-wildlife interactions are a global conservation challenge. HWC includes crop loss, livestock predation, property damage, and occasionally human injury and death.
● Wild Seve (‘Seve’ means ‘to serve’ in Kannada), established in July 2015, is a novel conservation intervention program that monitors and addresses HWC. Wild Seve assists people facing HWC-related losses to document and file for ex-gratia claims with the state government.
● In 48 months of operations, the program documented over 13,000 HWC incidents (as of July 2019), often involving large conflict-prone species such as elephants, leopards, and tigers, for families living around Bandipur and Nagarahole National Parks in Karnataka, India.
● Wild Seve isan effective low-cost conservation intervention that uses open-source technology and leverages existing policies to facilitate documentation for ex-gratia payment claims. This model of monitoring and addressing human-wildlife conflict is easily replicable, adaptable, and scalable in HWC-prone regions globally.

Scientists from the Centre for Wildlife Studies showed (in 2018) that although Karnataka leads the country in terms of reported human-wildlife conflict incidents and ex-gratia payments, thousands of incidents remained unreported and uncompensated for. Difficulty in accessing and delays in the application process for financial compensation, inconsistent policies, lack of transparency, high transaction costs, ineffective implementation, and variable payment amounts often anger communities, leading to increased retaliation against wildlife.

In a new peer reviewed article published in the journal, Frontiers in Ecology and Evolution, Dr. Krithi K. Karanth and Anubhav Vanamamalai highlight the design, implementation, operation, and results of a novel conservation intervention in Karnataka, the Wild Seve program. Drawing on over a decade of research in the landscape, and designed to improve HWC reporting, response, and participation in ex-gratia payment schemes within the established policy framework, Wild Seve was launched in July 2015.

The Wild Seve program created an efficient mobile technology-based platform and toll-free helpline for reporting incidents, collecting data and evidence, and filing ex-gratia claims on behalf of the affected. Wild Seve wasable to effectively contribute to the monitoring of wildlife occurring outside protected areas, thereby aiding in long-term landscape-level conservation efforts. The program assists the most vulnerable communities living around wildlife reserves and helps bridge the gap between people and the government.

Quote 1: “In megadiverse countries like India which host large populations of charismatic conflict-prone animals such as elephants, leopards and tigers, HWC poses a serious conservation challenge. If we are serious about resolving conflict and conserving endangered wildlife we need to build adaptability, resilience and support people who are directly impacted so that retaliation doesn’t take place. Wild Seve improves community tolerance towards wildlife, and reduces retaliation against them,” says Dr. Krithi K. Karanth, Chief Conservation Scientist at CWS, and the lead author of the study.

The novel research outlines the results of 48 months of Wild Seve’s operations in 600 village settlements around Bandipur and Nagarahole National Parks. Wild Seve filed and tracked over 13,000 ex-gratia payment claims for human-wildlife conflict incidents, which included 12,978 crop and property loss incidents, 782 livestock predation events, and 48 human injuries and fatalities. Wild Seve even facilitated the construction of over 48 predator-proof livestock sheds for those facing repeated livestock predation. Wild Seve’s field staff are proud members of the local communities they serve, and are dispatched to the location of HWC incidents to assess and document the damage and compile an ex-gratia payment claim with all requisite evidence and documentation.
Quote 2: “Managing expectations, especially in conflict events is of utmost importance to promote coexistence in regions where people and wildlife overlap. Wild Seve directly benefits people through its process, science through rigorous collection of data and analysis, and informs policy through its experience. Our use of simple technology and ef icient processes makes Wild Seve an easily scalable and replicable solution in addressing human-wildlife conflict incidents across the country,” says Anubhav Vanamamalai, Research Fellow at CWS and former Program Manager of Wild Seve.

The study, titled Wild Seve: A Novel Conservation Intervention to Monitor and Address Human-Wildlife Conflict, authored by Dr. Krithi K. Karanth and Anubhav Vanamamalaiappeared in the journal, Frontiers in Ecology and Evolution. The open-access study can also be directly retrieved from the journal.

Centre for Wildlife Studies

Centre for Wildlife Studies (CWS), based in Bengaluru, is an internationally recognised centre-of-excellence in the arenas of wildlife research, in-situ conservation, policy, and education. In collaboration with Central and State Governments, as well as partnerships with several national and international institutions, CWS practices science-based conservation to promote the protection of wildlife and wildlands.

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