The main objective of the project is that the rural population is better protected against human-wildlife conflict in project areas, where agreed guidelines and tools are applied to mitigate human-wildlife conflicts. The project focuses on three output areas to achieve these objectives:
• Development of a strategy and action plan to reduce human-wildlife conflict at a national level and in selected states.
• Pilot application of a holistic approach and instruments to mitigate human-wildlife conflicts at pilot sites in three project partner states.
• Facilitation of capacity development for key stakeholders to mitigate human-wildlife conflict in India.
Biodiversity is fundamental to sustain ecosystem processes, functions and the continued delivery of ecosystem services, which are the foundation of livelihood security, health and overall well-being of human societies. Conservation of biodiversity and wildlife, preserves cultural heritage and natural ways of living. It is essential for India, because the consequences of biodiversity loss and the resulting loss of ecosystem services have a far-reaching impact on the overall well-being of the population.
The situation in India is however changing. Increase in human population and its consequent demand for natural resources has led to degradation and fragmentation of natural habitats. As a result, humans and wildlife compete for the same diminishing resources.
Human-wildlife conflict has a negative impact, especially on rural Indian communities, causing economic losses amounting to millions of rupees. Intensive crop damage and the increasing frequency of animal attacks on both humans and their cattle have made communities less tolerant towards wildlife, mainly due to the emotional stigma attached. Mitigation of human-wildlife conflict is thus becoming one of the key issues of concern for both wildlife managers and the scientific community. There is a need to create an enabling environment for them to address the situation, and to strengthen their capacities in the most efficient and effective manner.
This shift from co-existence to conflict has the potential to undermine existing and future conservation efforts, and also hinder the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the Aichi Biodiversity Targets.
The project takes the approach of harmonious coexistence, by ensuring that both – human and wildlife – are protected from conflicts. This approach follows the modern wildlife conservation principles to balance the needs of people with the conservation of nature.
The project follows a holistic approach to addressing Human Wildlife Conflicts (HWC) by considering a “thematic triangle” of driver-prevention-damage reduction: In order to reduce the drivers of human-wildlife conflicts’, macro-planning tools, framing guidelines and standard operational procedures will be developed. To prevent human-wildlife conflicts, methods like human-wildlife separation or wildlife population management need to be developed. Where conflicts have an impact on people’s lives and overall well-being, they have to be compensated for.
The implementation will be conducted in a participatory manner and in cooperation with civil society. It will focus on benefitting women and the rural poor, who are considered to be the most vulnerable members of society. To further mainstream HWC mitigation across the nation, innovative state-of-the-art mitigation instruments will be implemented at the pilot sites. This will lead to a multi-level approach with a mutual learning feedback loop between measures taken at the national level, in states, and at the pilot sites to ensure that the key stakeholders are engaged throughout the implementation of project. The pilot sites are areas with existing human wildlife conflict in three selected states: Kodagu forest circle in Karnataka, Haridwar forest division in Uttarakhand and the area around the Gorumara National Park in Jalpaiguri District in West Bengal.
The project supports cooperation among key sectors and stakeholders across different levels of project implementation by setting up cross-sectoral working groups for strategies and Standard Operational Procedures that draw experts from key ministries, sectors, local institutions and across disciplines. To ensure the sustainability of the initiatives, the project offers customised human capacity development measures to institutions and technical specialists for mitigating human-wildlife conflicts in India.