KOCHI: The Southern bench of the National Green Tribunal has instructed the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEF) and state governments to formulate a mitigation plan to reduce the casualty of wildlife on account of man-animal conflict.The order has been issued on a suo-motu case taken up by the tribunal based on a report published by The New Indian Express on June 3, 2020, titled, “Kerala elephant tragedy: Another jumbo suspected to have been killed in similar fashion”.
A pregnant wild elephant had died at Velliyar river in Palakkad on May 27, 2020, after consuming a pineapple laced with explosives. The explosive was allegedly kept as a snare to catch wild boars that destroy crops.In the backdrop of the Palakkad incident, TNIE had published another report on June 3, 2020, about another female elephant that met with similar fate in April 2020 in Pathanapuram forest range area under Punalur division in Kollam district.
The elephant was found in a serious condition from the fringe areas of the forests and was alienated from the herd. Its jaw was broken and was unable to eat. Proper treatment was given but unfortunately it succumbed to the wounds.In the order dated June 11, 2021, the tribunal directed the MoEF to examine whether there are any guidelines for recovery of compensation from the person who are committing such act and evolve a formula for that. The authorities should take steps to recover the compensation apart from initiating prosecution under relevant provisions of Wildlife (Protection) Act.
The tribunal directed states to provide necessary effective investigation machinery in the forest department to deal with such incidents in an effective manner. The states can also consider forming a separate wing within the forest department to deal with cruelty to wild animals. The tribunal asked the MoEF and states to prepare guidelines and mechanism and submit an action taken report within a period of six months. The case was registered for the purpose of considering the ground reality and obtain suggestions to avoid such things in future and also for providing some long term strategies to minimise man-animal conflict in wild life habitats or fringe village adjoining the forest area.
The tribunal had appointed a Joint Committee comprising of a chief conservator of forest deputed by the principal chief conservator of forest, a senior officer from Wildlife Crime Control Bureau, wildlife warden of Silent Valley Division, divisional forest officer of Mannarkkad and Punalur and Palakkad district collector to submit a factual and action taken report including the long term management plan to avoid such recurrences in future. The panel had submitted a report containing 21 suggestions to mitigate man-animal conflict.