Human-Animal Encounters: Conflict

  Feb 19, 2024

Human-Animal Encounters: Conflict

HumanAnimal conflict

Concerns Over Kerala's Wildlife Population Control Proposal

The Kerala government's recent proposal to amend the Wildlife Protection Act, 1972, with the intention of addressing humanwildlife conflicts has sparked significant controversy. Introduced by Forest Minister A K Saseendran, the resolution aims to shift the power to permit the killing of wild animals posing a threat to human life from the chief wildlife warden to chief conservators of forests (CCFs), declare wild boar as vermin, and control the reproduction of wild animals.

Critics argue that this approach fails to address the root causes of increasing humananimal conflicts, such as habitat destruction and the spread of invasive species that reduce natural food sources for wildlife. The proposal, seen by some as more of a political maneuver than a viable solution, has been met with skepticism from environmentalists, animal rights activists, and experts in the field.

Key Points of Contention:

Habitat Destruction: The conversion of forest land into plantations has led to the destruction of grasslands and the spread of invasive species, degrading forest ecosystems and reducing food sources for herbivores, which in turn drives them into human habitation areas.

Alternative Solutions Ignored: Experts suggest that converting plantations back to natural forests and constructing water holes in deeper forest areas could more effectively reduce humananimal conflicts. Initiatives like the Rebuild Kerala Development Programme, which relocated human settlements from deep forests to reduce conflicts, highlight alternative approaches.

Questionable Efficacy and Ethics of Population Control: The proposal to control wildlife reproduction has been criticized as absurd and unfeasible, especially considering the significant declines in populations of key species like elephants and tigers in Kerala.

Legal and Practical Challenges: The demand for declaring wild boar as vermin and allowing for their culling faces legal and practical hurdles, given recent amendments to the Wildlife Protection Act and existing permissions for panchayat presidents to order the culling of wild boars.

Expert Opinions:

Former Principal CCF Prakriti Srivastava emphasizes the importance of protecting wild habitats and maintaining biodiversity to mitigate conflicts.

Animal rights activist M N Jayachandran highlights the decline in wild elephant and tiger populations, questioning the rationale behind claims of overpopulation and the proposed culling.

Former chief wildlife warden O P Kaler and Asian elephant researcher Sreedhar Vijayakrishnan point to the complexity of humanwildlife conflicts and the need for evidencebased, ethical, and effective solutions.

The proposal has thus raised important questions about the balance between protecting human interests and conserving wildlife, the ethics of animal population control, and the necessity of addressing the underlying causes of humanwildlife conflicts through sustainable and humane practices.


underscores the need for a comprehensive and informed discussion on wildlife management, emphasizing the importance of ethical considerations, scientific evidence, and community involvement in formulating policies that ensure the safety and wellbeing of both humans and wildlife.

Understanding Vermin: Impact on Agriculture and Human Activities

Vermin, colloquially known as varmints or varmits, are animals considered pests due to their tendency to spread diseases and cause significant damage to crops, livestock, and property. The classification of an animal as vermin is highly dependent on the context of human activities, and as such, the species identified under this term can vary widely by region and type of human enterprise. These animals are often targeted in wildlife management and control efforts to protect agricultural interests, preserve public health, and mitigate economic losses.

Key Characteristics and Examples of Vermin:

Disease Spread: Vermin can be carriers of various diseases that affect both humans and animals. Rodents, for example, are known for spreading hantavirus, leptospirosis, and the bubonic plague.

Crop Destruction: Many species of vermin, such as locusts and other insects, are notorious for their ability to devastate large areas of crops, leading to significant agricultural losses.

Livestock Threats: Certain predators, considered vermin in some contexts, pose threats to livestock. Coyotes and foxes, for instance, may attack poultry and young mammals. Property Damage: Vermin like termites and rats can cause considerable damage to buildings and infrastructure, necessitating costly repairs.

Management and Control:

The approach to managing and controlling vermin populations is multifaceted, involving habitat modification, population control measures, and preventive practices. These can range from chemical and biological pest control to physical barriers and changes in agricultural practices to reduce vulnerability to pests. Legal and ethical considerations also play a significant role in determining the methods used for vermin control, with wildlife protection laws influencing how and when certain species can be targeted.

Regional Variations:

What constitutes vermin is largely determined by the specific challenges faced in a given region. For example, in agricultural areas, species that threaten crops and livestock are often labeled as vermin, while in urban settings, the focus may be on rodents and insects that affect public health and property. This variability underscores the importance of tailored management strategies that consider local ecosystems, economic activities, and conservation laws.

Ethical and Environmental Considerations:

The classification and control of vermin raise important ethical and environmental questions. While the protection of human health and economic interests is paramount, there is a growing recognition of the need to balance these concerns with animal welfare and ecosystem integrity. Nonlethal management strategies, ecological restoration, and public education are increasingly advocated to address vermin issues in a humane and sustainable manner.

In summary, the concept of vermin highlights the complex relationship between humans and wildlife, encapsulating the challenges of coexistence and the necessity of thoughtful, sciencebased approaches to wildlife management. Addressing verminrelated issues requires a comprehensive understanding of the species involved, their ecological roles, and the potential impacts of control measures on local environments and biodiversity.


emphasizes the critical need for informed, ethical, and effective management strategies in addressing the challenges posed by vermin to agriculture, public health, and property, advocating for solutions that are beneficial for both humans and the natural world.


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