Examine the main drivers behind the increasing instances of human-wildlife conflicts across India. What innovative approaches could be adopted to effectively mitigate these conflicts?


Protests have erupted in Wayanad, Kerala after a man was killed by a herd of wild elephants, the third such death in less than a month in the district.


  • Introduction: Define Human-wildlife conflict and add data about such conflicts in India.
  • Main Body: Drivers of Human-Wildlife Conflicts include increased area under cultivation, Population growth, Movement of livestock and humans, Habitat fragmentation, invasive species, etc. Approaches like community participation and awareness, crop protection measures and early warning systems, habitat restoration and corridor connectivity can be adopted to mitigate the conflicts.
  • Conclusion: A holistic approach is essential to mitigate human-wildlife conflicts and to promote harmonious coexistence between humans and wildlife.


Human-wildlife conflict refers to interactions between humans and wild animals that result in negative impacts on livelihoods, agriculture, and biodiversity, posing challenges for conservation and coexistence.

Drivers behind the Increasing Instances of Human-Wildlife Conflicts:

  • Increased area under cultivation and alterations in cropping patterns disrupt natural ecosystems, leading to heightened encounters between humans and wildlife.
    • In Kerala, with forests covering about 30% of its area and agricultural plantations close to these forests, more than 48,000 crop damage incidents were reported from 2013 to 2019.
  • Significant increase in animal populations due to conservation efforts thus bringing them into closer proximity with human settlements.
    • With increased population of elephants, over 14,000 incidents were reported between 2013-14 and 2018-19.
  • Movement of livestock and humans in wildlife habitats for activities such as grazing livestock or collecting forest resources increases the likelihood of confrontations with wildlife.
  • Habitat Depletion and Fragmentation due to human activities force wildlife to seek resources in human-dominated landscapes, leading to conflicts.
  • Invasive Alien species and monoculture plantations reduce natural food and water sources for wildlife, pushing them towards human settlements.
    • Species like eucalyptus and acacia have negatively impacted plant biodiversity and reduced habitat suitability for native wildlife species.
  • Ineffective mitigation measures such as elephant-proof trenches and solar power fences are often ineffective due to lack of maintenance or vandalism.
  • Challenges with Eco-Sensitive Zone (ESZ) Norms due to land scarcity and human settlements near wildlife habitats.

Approaches that Could be Adopted:

  • Enhanced Community Awareness and participation by educating local communities about wildlife behaviour and implementing community-based conservation initiatives can foster coexistence.
    • Initiatives like eco-clubs and community-based patrols have been successful in reducing conflicts in the Agasthyamalai Biosphere Reserve in Kerala.
  • Innovative crop protection measures such as chili-based barriers or using scent deterrents can deter wildlife from raiding agricultural fields.
    • In Himachal Pradesh, chili-based barriers have been effective.
  • Development of early warning systems utilizing technology such as drones and camera traps to monitor wildlife movements and alerting communities in advance can help reduce conflicts.
    • Pilot projects in states like Karnataka have demonstrated their effectiveness.
  • Habitat restoration and corridor connectivity to facilitate species movement can reduce conflicts by providing alternative routes for wildlife.
    • The Indian government recently identified 62 new elephant corridors, increasing the total to 150.
  • Livelihood diversification for affected communities can reduce dependence on natural resources and minimize conflicts.
    • Eco-tourism and sustainable agriculture projects have provided alternative sources of income for communities living near wildlife habitats in states like Uttarakhand.
  • Strengthening legal and policy frameworks for conflict resolution.
    • The Wildlife (Protection) Act in India provides legal provisions for the protection of wildlife and habitats, but enforcement mechanisms need to be strengthened.

Addressing the drivers of human-wildlife conflicts requires a holistic approach that integrates ecological, social, and technological solutions. By fostering community participation and strengthening conservation policies, India can effectively mitigate conflicts and promote harmonious coexistence between humans and wildlife.

‘+1’ value addition:

  • Government data for 2022-23 recorded 8,873 wild animal attacks, of which, 4193 were by wild elephants, 1524 by wild boars, 193 by tigers, 244 by leopards, and 32 by bison.
  • Planting suitable indigenous plants (wild mango, wild gooseberry, and wild jackfruit) in the forest to ensure wild animals’ food security can dissuade them from entering agricultural lands.
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