ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Addressing the Source

Human–Wildlife Conflict in India

Approaches for resolving incidences of human–wildlife conflict such as predator attacks on people or livestock typically use methods that address physical loss but ignore social, cultural, and emotional trauma. To holistically and more permanently alleviate conflicts, wildlife management agencies and other conservation practitioners require resources and training in outreach and public relations, and need to expand their toolkit of approaches in order to connect with varied stakeholders in a greater diversity of settings.

Wildlife managers and other conservation practitioners represent the wildlife they manage or research. When wildlife damages people’s property or affects the lives of family and friends, these authorities are often required to step beyond their areas of expertise and training to address the needs of people. Managing people well—especially in sensitive situations when they have faced a serious personal loss to wildlife—is critical to conserving wildlife.

But how exactly do you explain to a stranger that her husband has been mauled by a sloth bear, or tell a farmer that a tiger has devoured his cow on which he relies for his sustenance? Local people’s interactions with the administration—often considered a representation of wildlife itself—start with the way in which people are treated as they receive the news of such losses. These moments can be traumatic and emotionally charged, especially when it is a human life that has been lost. The households wrestling with these losses are then often expected to carry out long protracted procedures to claim financial compensation payments, a process which again defines their view of the larger administrative and governmental system, as well as shapes their future willingness to engage with wildlife authorities and tolerate the proximity of wildlife.

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