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A total of 23,182 instances of man-animal conflicts causing death or injury to people were recorded in the State between August 1, 2016 and June 4, 2020.

The State paid a compensation of Rs. 29.39 crore in connection with the cases.

There were 17,116 instances of crop raid by animals during this period while incidence of cattle lift stood at 1,214, according to data available with the State Forest Department.

A total of Rs. 12.25 crore was paid to farmers by way of compensation for crop loss while a sum of Rs. 2.65 crore was paid as compensation for loss of cattle.

Between 2015 and 2019, a total of 514 people lost their lives in conflict with animals. Twenty-three animals too died in these incidents.

Senior forest officials said that while the State had taken numerous measures to reduce incidence of man-animal conflict, there was no way this could be completely halted.

Solar fencing was done along 2,413.7 km of forest area, elephant trenches were dug along 631 kms, and stone-pitched trenches were made over a six km area while concrete walls were raised along 178.13 kms as a defence against elephants in certain stretches and sanctuaries.

This is apart from biofencing, hedges and crash guard rope fences done to prevent both animals and people living in the vicinity of forests from coming to conflict with each other.

A senior forest official said that the SMS alert system, set up in places like Wayanad, Munnar and Aralam in Kannur to alert villagers on presence of radio-collared rogue elephants, was working well. The Jana Jagratha Samithis set up in panchayats and the Rapid Response teams of forest officials for turning back to forests animals wading into human habitation were also effective mechanisms, he said.

Fencing animals

“Whether we should construct a huge wall to fence animals in is a philosophical question. Animals cannot be contained like that and we should be able to approach the issue with a large heart,” says Surendrakumar, Chief Wildlife Warden, Kerala.

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