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Man-animal conflict to be listed as disaster under SDRF by UP govt

The Wildlife Protection Act does not have provision for compensation in case any human being or cattle is killed by a wild animal within a protected area.

PTI | New Delhi |

In possibly the first-of-its-kind move, the Uttar Pradesh government has given its in-principle approval to bring man-animal conflict under listed disasters in State Disaster Response Fund to ensure better coordination and relief during such incidents.

The Uttar Pradesh government has given the nod to bring man-animal conflict in the list of disasters and detailed guidelines will be issued soon, a recent order said.

The move will enable faster relief, creating awareness, ensuring police support in areas when such conflicts are reported, and proper guidelines to handle situations when wild animals venture in human in-habitation, field director of Dudhwa National Park, Ramesh Pandey, told PTI.

According to data provided by World Wildlife Fund, 98 cases of human and big cats conflicts have been reported in the state in the last two years.

Tiger attacks in Uttar Pradesh have alone claimed seven lives in last three years in Uttar Pradesh, according to the union environment ministry data.

“The recognition of man-animal conflict as a disaster under SDRF is a paradigm shift in handling such situations which will ensure better synergy among agencies and quicker relief to affected people,” Pandey said.

The Wildlife Protection Act does not have provision for compensation in case any human being or cattle is killed by a wild animal within a protected area or sanctuary, noted wildlife expert Suresh Chaudhari said.

The government gives ex-gratia at fixed rates in such cases but that is a time-consuming process and may take a year to get relief, that too if inquiry clears such a payment, he said.

Payment of ex-gratia amount to victims of wild animal attack is provided with a view to reduce retaliatory killings, according to the union ministry.

It is provided under Schemes of ‘IDWH’, ‘Project Tiger’ and ‘Project Elephant’, as and when sought by state governments and subject to availability of fund.

Delays in getting ex-gratia triggers anger among local population against protected animals which often results in tigers and leopards being killed by villagers, said landscape coordinator of WWF in Uttar Pradesh, Mudit Gupta.

The forest department and other agencies like health, police, district administration work in silos when a situation of man-animal conflict arises but bringing it under SDRF will ensure that all these agencies work in synergy under district magistrate in better and efficient manner, officials said.

The declaration of such conflict under SDRF will also mean that police and local administration will step in as soon as such a situation arises like a herd of elephants entering a village, a leopard being spotted or a tiger venturing in human inhabitation, Gupta said.

Uttar Pradesh has 23 wildlife sanctuaries across 27 districts covering over 5,000 sq km, besides Dudhwa National Park with an additional 490 sq km of area and Pilibhit Tiger Reserve with an area of 726 sq km, according to the data of a report by Wildlife Trust of India and the state government.