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More Animals Less Forest Coverage


  • The state of Karnataka has been dealing with an increase in man-animal conflicts, which have raised concerns about the state’s handling of wildlife and forest conservation issues.
    • Earlier this month, tiger attacks on the border of the Nagarahole National Park near Kutta in the Kodagu district claimed the lives of a 70-year-old man from the Jenu Kuruba community and his 12-year-old grandson.
    • Over the course of a few months, human-leopard conflicts in south Karnataka resulted in the deaths of four people.


GS Paper-3: Biodiversity protection and related laws; Man-Animal Conflict; Animal Welfare

Mains Question

What are the main causes and effects of the increasing conflicts between humans and animals? Include some progressive solutions to these problems in your proposal as well. (250 Words)

Key Points

  • According to a study done by conservation biologist Sanjay Gubbi and his team, there are about 2,500 leopards living in the state of Karnataka.
    • Ramanagara, Tumakuru, Mandya, Mysore, and Hassan are the five districts where more than half of the human-leopard conflict occurs.

Human-Animal Conflict

  • Conflict between humans and animals occurs when those encounters have unfavourable outcomes, such as the destruction of property, livelihoods, or even human life.
  • Human-wildlife conflict is on the rise due to an increase in both human populations and the need for space, which is causing more human-wildlife interaction and resource competition.
  • The area covered by forest cover should have been increased by establishing buffer zones when the wildlife population was rising as a result of protection measures.
  • The opposite, however, occurred in Karnataka.
  • As a result of the government clearing forest land for infrastructure projects and diverting it for non-forestry uses, forests have either decreased in size or been disturbed.
    • Over 450 hectares of forest land were taken out of the forest between 2020–2021 and 2021–2022, when the conflict between humans and animals reached a new high. These projects included mining, road building, irrigation, windmills, and railway lines.
  • The state government has also objected to the Union Environment Ministry’s notification on Ecologically Sensitive Areas in the Western Ghats that could help protect green cover. o The total land area under forest cover in 2012–13 was 43,356.47 sq km, or 22.61% of the State’s land area. This has decreased to 4,0591.97 sq km, or 21.16% of the land area, in 2021–22.

Conflict-related effects include

  • Killing in self-defense and retaliation could lead to the extinction of these species.
    • These encounters cause suffering for both people and wildlife who are directly impacted by the conflict, but they can also have a global impact, with organisations like businesses and sustainable development agencies feeling its aftereffects.
    • The Forest Department reports that in the State in 2020–21, there were 24,740 cases of wild animal damage to crops, 3,019 cases of cattle kill, and 36 cases of human fatalities.
      • The total amount of compensation paid out was 21.64 crore.
    • In 2021–2022, there were reported 40 human fatalities, 4,052 cattle fatalities, and 31,225 cases of crop damage brought on by wild animals.
      • The total compensation paid was more than 27.4 crore.
    • Over 20 crore has already been paid out in compensation this year. And this amount is anticipated to surpass 40 crore once the outstanding applications are processed.
    • The people who live in villages and on the edges of forests are bearing the brunt of the conflict’s costs, including the deaths and crop damage.
    • If not properly managed, human-wildlife conflict has the potential to negatively impact these activities as well as conservation in general, which could result in less local support for wildlife conservation.

Government actions

  • The state’s government authorities have considered conflict-mitigation strategies.
    • These include relocating elephants and tigers from conflict zones and using abandoned rail fences to enclose villages that border forest boundaries.
  • The Forest Department is currently experimenting with the idea of building two or three distinct enclosures or rescue facilities to address Human-Leopard conflicts.
    • Each of these will have room for 250 tranquillized and captured leopards that were taken from conflict zones.
  • Between April 2022 and January of this year, Karnataka alone saw the capture of nearly 130 leopards from war zones.

Way Forward

  • Although mitigation efforts are essential, some people think they only deal with the symptoms rather than the underlying problem.
  • The reason for this is that the rise in conflicts and the number of fatalities among people are thought to be directly related to the government’s conflicting conservation and development policies.
  • The environment suffers as a result, so buffer zones should be established to increase the area covered by trees.
  • Procuring plantations and land adjacent to forest areas can augment and strengthen the buffer zone and help reduce conflicts. o These areas can act as sinks to absorb the increase in animal population and provide connectivity for animal migration.
  • In order to reduce human-wildlife conflict, we must reassess the relationship—and especially the direct interactions—between people and wildlife to improve our coexistence in the future. If such environmentally harmful forest land conversion policies are not reversed, the impact of mitigation measures to reduce conflicts will be neutralised.


 Methods that recognise and address the more fundamental causes of conflict are needed, along with context-specific, systemic solutions that involve the affected communities on an equal footing.

December 2023