The India Peace Centre, Nagpur observed the World Tiger Day by organizing a Round Table Panel Discussion on ‘Human Animal Conflict & Resolution’. Principal Dr John Menachery who moderated the Round Table in his introductory remarks said that India which harbours about 76% of the world tiger population has 50 tiger reserves which are governed by the National Tiger Conservation Authority.
He said that Maharashtra which is one of the leading states in tiger conservation has over 15% of the total forest area which harbours around 312 tigers under 6 tiger reserves, namely, Melghat, Tadoba-Andhari, Pench, Bor, Navegon-Nagzira, and Sahyadri. He said that Vidarbha has 98% of the tiger population of Maharashtra and with human dominated tiger landscapes, human-animal conflicts are a sad reality which needs to be resolved. The panelists who took part in the Round Table were Mr Pandurang Pakhale (Range Forest Officer), Dr Tejinder Singh Rawal (Environmentalist) and Dr Keshav Walke (Environmental Activist and Social Work Educator).
Emphasizing on measures for minimizing human-animal conflicts, Mr Pandurang Pakhale outlined the salient features of ‘Dr Shyama Prasad Mukherjee Jan-Van Vikas Yojana’ which was launched by the Maharashtra government in 2015. He said that the scheme which aimed at reducing human-wildlife conflicts is providing for better life and livelihood opportunities by organizing skill training to tribal youth from the forest areas so as to enhance their employability and minimize their dependency on forests. Dr Keshav Walke highlighted the difficulties faced by the original inhabitants who are displaced from villages in forest areas.
He said although those who are displaced are relocated, they are yet to be rehabilitated in the true sense of the term. He pointed out that one of the reasons for increased human-animal conflict is large scale depletion of forest land due to various developmental projects and unplanned industrialization.
Dr Tejinder Singh Rawal made a passionate plea for respecting bio-diversity and eco-centrism. Citing the example of neighboring Bhutan, he said there is a direct link between rich bio-diversity and human happiness. He said we need to ensure that at least 30% of the land area in India is under genuine forests. He said tree plantation cannot be a solution to shrinking of forest areas that are rich in their bio-diversity. He appealed not to buy products of animal origin and also for steps to ensure reduction of carbon foot prints.
Mr Kasta Dip, Director of India Peace Centre who coordinated the event proposed a vote of thanks.