Living on the Edge: Human Wildlife Conflict in Warna Basin

The Warna River Basin overlaps Sangli and Kolhapur Districts in South-Western Maharashtra. A very small part of the river basin consisting of the northern-most tip of Chandoli NP lies in Satara District.Chandoli National Park, located at the eastern tip of the Warna Basin is the largest forest block and the only protected area in the Warna Basin.Secondary data regarding wildlife conflicts were obtained from the Territorial Forest Divisions of Sangli and Kolhapur and Kolhapur Wildlife Division. Total 109 households were sampled in 10 villages from the study area. 24 households were sampled in Mandur; 5 in Panumbre and 10 households each in the remaining villages.

Crop damage is caused by animals like Gaur, Wild boar, Monkeys, Porcupines. Livestock kills are reported by animals such as leopard, tiger and bear. Scarcity of water during summer season forces is a major problem for the villagers and they have to share their limited water resources with wildlife in some villages. Crop damage by Gaur was reported by 88% of the respondents and by wild boar by 77% of the respondents. Almost all respondents stated that gaur caused more crop damage than the wild boar. Crop damage by gaur occurred throughout the cropping season since gaur grazed on young plants as well as on mature crops. On the other hand, wild boar raided crop fields when the crop fields had matured. Crop damage takes place throughout the monsoon growing season from August to December, especially by gaur. Since rice and nachni are the principal crops the damage takes place mainly in monsoon. Crop damage by wild boar was reported towards the end of the growing season, after Diwali. In case of winter crops such as wheat, jowar, maize, gram etc. damage occurred in winter from December to March. There was not much damage during summer as hardly any crops were cultivated in summer due to lack of irrigation. Raids on banana plants in Mandur and Amba continued throughout the year.

Crop depredations by wild herbivores cannot be completely avoided around a protected area such as Chandoli NP. The only solution to this problem is to improve the crop guarding techniques and increase awareness about maintaining safe distance from forests at night so to avoid accidental encounters with wildlife.Although the farmers practice crop–guarding in the region, they need training in better methods of crop protection. The traditional methods are still the most common and most effective. Local people in other parts of Kolhapur reported that EPTs were not very effective wherever they were tried by the Forest Department.

Solar fencing was reported to be effective at other places where it had been tried in Kolhapur and Sindhudurg Districts. However in the long term community solar fencing erected by the Forest Department was unsuccessful because neither the Forest Department nor the local people carried out maintenance, which is essential for its success.There are a few lowcostand simple techniques that can be used by the farmers to protect their crops. These techniques have been suggested by many studies for elephants but can be applied for gaur and wild boars also.

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