, Volume 31, Issue 4, pp 0466-0475

Living Amidst Large Wildlife: Livestock and Crop Depredation by Large Mammals in the Interior Villages of Bhadra Tiger Reserve, South India

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Abstract

Conflict with humans over livestock and crops seriously undermines the conservation prospects of India's large and potentially dangerous mammals such as the tiger (Panthera tigris) and elephant (Elephas maximus). This study, carried out in Bhadra Tiger Reserve in south India, estimates the extent of material and monetary loss incurred by resident villagers between 1996 and 1999 in conflicts with large felines and elephants, describes the spatiotemporal patterns of animal damage, and evaluates the success of compensation schemes that have formed the mainstay of loss-alleviation measures. Annually each household lost an estimated 12% (0.9 head) of their total holding to large felines, and approximately 11% of their annual grain production (0.82 tonnes per family) to elephants. Compensations awarded offset only 5% of the livestock loss and 14% of crop losses and were accompanied by protracted delays in the processing of claims. Although the compensation scheme has largely failed to achieve its objective of alleviating loss, its implementation requires urgent improvement if reprisal against large wild mammals is to be minimized. Furthermore, innovative schemes of livestock and crop insurance need to be tested as alternatives to compensations.