A photo of Gir Wildlife Sanctuary. Express photo by Javed Raza
In view of rising incidents of human-animal conflict, a new draft national forest policy has proposed a host of measures including taking up habitat enrichment, provision of adequate compensation for people affected by wildlife and establishment of rescue centres to treat animals to manage the problem.
The draft National Forest Policy 2016, put up by the Environment Ministry, notes that the country’s wildlife is facing a threat and wild species are being altered by increasing anthropogenic pressures, rising human-animal conflicts, illegal trade in wild species and climate change.
The draft document, once ratified, will replace the National Forest Policy, 1988.
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Even as the debate rages on whether culling of wild animals help mitigate the human-animal conflict, the draft, under its section ‘Strengthening wildlife management’, has stressed that there is an “urgent” need to renew efforts to safeguard wildlife and secure their habitats.
“Manage and mitigate human-wildlife conflicts by taking up habitat enrichment. Provide adequate and timely compensation in case of injury or loss of human life, property, crop damage or livestock casualties.
“To manage problem animals, establish rescue centres and develop a team of well-equipped and trained personnel,” the draft policy states.
It has also proposed management of protected areas and other wildlife rich areas and corridors with the primary objective of biodiversity conservation, while enhancing other ecosystem services.
“Voluntary and attractive relocation packages of villages from within national parks, other wildlife rich areas and corridors should be developed. Such areas should be effectively secured by strengthening enforcement, restoring habitats and establishing ecological corridors,” it said.
The recent decision of the Environment Ministry to allow some states to cull wild animals has started a debate with the green bodies expressing “shock” over the Ministry’s decision and asserting that culling would not help mitigate human-animal conflict.
Environment Minister Prakash Javadekar and Women and Child Development Minister Maneka Gandhi had also locked horns over the issue with the latter saying that there was “lust” for killing in the Environment Ministry and the former defending by noting that animal culling is allowed on the request of states.
The draft NFP 2016 also proposes that threat assessment of species and recovery measures based on population and habitat viability parameters should form an “integral and regular” part of management practices.
It has also called for…