Chennai, June 03, 2017: Damage by birds and animals to agriculture can be as much as 100% making the balance of conservation and livelihood a ‘monumental challenge’. Localized solutions can help prevent conflict and promote harmony between humans and wildlife said Ms Tara Gandhi, ornithologist, at a seminar at M S Swaminathan Research Foundation here today. She shared successful case studies using low cost/low tech methods to innovative high tech solutions that had helped resolve conflict.
Ms Gandhi who has authored several books on birds and ecology was speaking on the backdrop of World Environment Day on June 5th. She has recently written a book ‘Birds, Wild Animals and Agriculture – Conflict and Coexistence in India’.
“The laws in India are very strong when it comes to the environment. What we need is effective implementation to ensure that what is available on paper is applied on the ground,” she said. Sharing examples of how many communities lived in harmony with wildlife due to traditional wisdom and practices, she reminded the audience about many beneficial properties of birds when it came to agricultural practices. Simple methods such as organic farming or conservation of wetlands could help protect birds that were useful in the context of agriculture, she said.
While there 750 protected areas across ecosystems in India, they end up being islands within agricultural landscapes or areas of destructive development, providing more possibilities for the human-wildlife conflict. “The ‘push’ or ‘pull’ factors that bring wildlife into human contact makes people retaliate. This is why locally specific and geographically tailored solutions are required. Solutions should be through an interactive consultative process”, she said.
There was need to focus equally on animals and people for conservation and improve relations between them without which there will be disastrous consequences. Several environmental enthusiasts, scientists, scholars and students attended the seminar and engaged in an interactive discussion on the problem and solutions at the end of the talk.
Ms Tara Gandhi is an ornithologist and is currently the executive Trustee of the Wildlife Trust of India, New Delhi and serves on the committees of BNHS-India, Madras Naturalists’ Society and the Institutional Ethics Committee of the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT-M).
M S Swaminathan Research Foundation, headquartered in Chennai with centres in six Indian states uses a pro-poor, pro-nature, pro-women approach for agriculture and sustainable rural development.