Let’s Talk Program organized by Coimbatore Arts and Theatrical Society in association with Young Indians and Confederation of Indian Industry as a part of Coimbatore Vizha that happens every year, this year, the topic that was in discussion was Man-Animal Conflict.
There were some distinguished people in the Panel Discussion, who have contributed a lot towards wildlife conservation, habitat restoration, creating awareness among people, sustainable conservation etc.
Usually, people seldom relate to how vegetation can make a change in today’s Man-Animal Conflict scenario, and the impact it can create. Mr. Arthur Steele, Director of Nilgiri Biosphere Nature Park, threw some light on this issue, saying how planting the right type of crop in the fringe areas can ward off wild animals from destroying the crop. Today, there are vast farmlands adjoining all forest reserves, invariably. This often invites wild animals to foray into the fields and raid the crops. Mr. Steele pointed out, planting the right type of cash crops and using fencing plants (eg. Lime Tree) is a more eco friendly way of keeping wild elephants and wild boars away from destroying the crop than using electric fences. He also mentions that not a single coffee plant in his Organic Coffee Estate in Kodaikanal had been broken in the last 20 odd years because of such adaptive measures.
Dr. Manohar, The Chief Veterinarian of the Tamilnadu Forest Department, pointed out one of the major contributors to Man-Animal Conflict- Human Behaviour. He describes, how these animals in the sensitive area have learnt to deal with human beings who usually only taunt them and provoke them invariably all the time. He mentions, in some fringe areas, there have been reports of peaceful co-existence between humans and wild animals. Over a given period of time, animals change their behavior towards humans and how to deal with them, he adds.
Dr. B. A. Daniel, Scientist/Entomologist and Secretary Trustee at Zoo Outreach Organization, points out how much educating the locals can bring about a change in todays Man-Animal Conflict scenario. Having held awareness programs in India, Bhutan, Nepal, Indonesia, Thailand, Dr. Daniel has proof for his education program working. Mr. K. V. Siddhartha of Coimbatore Arts and Theatrical Society put forward a very radical idea of introducing insurance policies for farmers who plant the right crop in their fields.
One of the many ways today’s farmers try to keep wild elephants away is by digging out Elephant Proof Trenches (EPT). But today, huge EPTs covering a massive piece of farmland, has the potential to alter ravines and small streams which in turn affects the water flow to reach its destination.
At the Let’s Talk Man-Animal Conflict program, we tried to throw in all our ideas, concerns, and possible solutions to reduce the rate of Man-Animal Conflict in and around Coimbatore and try to develop Coimbatore as one of the most sustainable bases for Wildlife Tourism.
How far we succeed in imbibing these measures and containing Man-Animal Conflicts will be a matter of evaluation in the coming days. The event brought all the wildlife enthusiasts and conservationists together and it was a privilege for me (Harishvara Venkat) to moderate the discussions and share space with all of them.