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Kerala Declares 'Man-Animal Conflict' a State-Specific Disaster



Introduction

Kerala's unprecedented decision to declare 'man-animal conflict' a state-specific disaster highlights the growing challenge this complex issue poses to India. This analysis aims to provide UPSC aspirants with a comprehensive understanding of the situation, including its root causes, the state's response, and strategies for managing human-animal conflict, a vital topic for CSE preparation.

What's the Ongoing News?

  • Kerala has become India's first state to declare 'man-animal conflict' a state-specific disaster.

  • This decision comes at a time when people in several parts of Kerala are demanding a perennial solution to instances of man-animal conflict.

Rising Human-Animal Conflict in Kerala: A Brief Overview

  • Kerala, despite being one of India's most densely populated states, harbors a significant wildlife population.

  • Kerala faces a significant human-animal conflict, with over 48,000 incidents reported between 2013-14 and 2018-194.

  • Over 600 people have lost their lives in Kerala since 2015 in conflict with animals. Elephants are the main culprits, involved in 14,611 incidents. Wild boars, bonnet macaques, and snakes are also notable for causing conflicts.

How is Kerala Addressing the Issue?

Disaster Declaration: Declaring man-animal conflict a 'disaster' shifts responsibility from the Forest Department alone to the State Disaster Management Authority (SDMA) and district-level authorities. This enables the following:

  • Faster Response: The Disaster Management Act streamlines decision-making and allows for more rapid interventions to mitigate conflict.

  • Overriding Wildlife Protection Act: In exigent circumstances, the DM Act's provisions can take precedence over the Wildlife Protection Act, permitting swifter action against problematic animals.

  • District Collector Empowerment: District collectors, as heads of their District DMAs, gain greater authority to intervene.

Why the 'Disaster' Declaration