Human-Drawn Boundaries won’t Resolve Human-Animal Conflicts; Joint Efforts required: Kerala HC

Human-drawn territorial boundaries do not help resolve man-animal conflicts and can be contained only by concerted efforts, the Kerala High Court has said.

The High Court suggested that a joint action plan be prepared by Kerala, Tamil Nadu and Karnataka, “preferably at the level of the Additional Chief Secretaries”, to deal with the issue of wild animal incursions in Wayanad district of Kerala.

A special bench of Justices A K Jayasankaran Nambiar and Gopinath P was of the view that it would be appropriate for the state governments to organise joint discussions at the level of the Additional Chief Secretaries “so that urgent decisions, if required to be taken, can be taken without getting approval from higher authorities”.

“We are hopeful that such joint committees will be set up towards the above end,” the court said.

It also directed the Chief Conservator of Forests, Wildlife, North Circle, Wayanad, to prepare a map of trenches, barriers and fences which have been put up by private individuals and the government in the areas within the jurisdiction of the North and South Wildlife divisions of the high-range district.

The bench, in its order dated February 19, directed that the map be prepared within 10 days and submitted before a committee constituted by the court in March last year to deal with man-animal conflicts.

“He (Chief Conservator of Forests, Wildlife, North Circle, Wayanad) shall also file an affidavit regarding the availability of the details of water tanks, other watering holes artificially created and the steps taken to ensure the availability of water during the summer months so as to prevent wildlife intrusions into human settlements on account of shortage of water within the forest areas,” the bench said in its order.

With the directions the court listed the matter for further consideration on February 27.

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The order was issued pursuant to the court holding a discussion with the District Collector, Wayanad, the Superintendent of Police, the Additional Director General of Police, the Additional Chief Secretary, the Chief Conservator of Forests, the Chief Wildlife Warden and the Divisional Forest Officer through video conference.

“The discussions were for determining the immediate steps to be taken for addressing inter alia the law and order problems faced in Wayanad district as also the steps to be taken to prevent animal incursion into the human settlements in those areas in Wayanad district that border reserve forests,” the court said.

The High Court’s intervention comes at a time when the high-range district is witnessing a rise in animal attacks and incursions in human settlements and has led to loss of several lives in the recent months.

It has also led to protests by people of the affected areas demanding a permanent resolution to frequent human-wildlife conflicts.

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