“Human-animal conflicts have assumed alarming proportions in the region,” Asghar Inayati, a regional wildlife warden in Kashmir, recently told Inter Press Service (IPS) News. Since India and Pakistan gained independence in 1949, both sides have fought for control of the territory. Not only has the decades-long conflict claimed 100,000 lives (by some estimates), it has also displaced animals from their natural habitats, sparking violent encounters with local people and threatening many species’ survival.
According to IPS News, in the last three years, more than 49 people and 404 animals have died as a result of human-animal conflict in Kashmir. With their habitats increasingly fragmented by deforestation, periodic skirmishes, a fenced line of control, and human settlements, displaced animals have strayed into local communities, feeding on livestock and crops. In retaliation, many local farmers hunt, capture, and kill wildlife. “These conflicts are a major threat to continued survival of many species,” says A. K. Srivastava, the chief wildlife warden.
Kashmir is home to several critically endangered species, including the Kashmiri red stag and the snow leopard. As IPS News reports, wildlife wardens are approaching the problem from both sides, increasing farmers’ awareness of the importance of wildlife, while also helping them build better livestock pens and barricades to keep predators at bay. Wardens are also using aversion techniques to keep animals away from human habitats. But with critically endangered species like the Kashmiri red stag on the brink of extinction—with approximately only 150 left in the world—conservation efforts need to be stepped up to save indigenous animals from extinction.
“Sharing the Forest: Protecting Gorillas and Helping Families in Uganda” recommends a comprehensive approach to curbing human-wildlife conflict that includes environmental conservation, family planning, basic health care, and support for sustainable livelihoods. By curbing the pace of environmental fragmentation and degradation, developing countries can preserve—and benefit from—their rich biodiversity.
Photo: In Kashmir, a decades-long conflict continues to spark human-animal conflict that threatens the region’s endangered species and rich biodiversity. Courtesy of flickr user Julie Starr.