Unseen Passage: Wildlife Outside National Parks

Usually, you would need to visit a national park or sanctuary to sight beautiful wild animals such as the wild boar, blue bull (Nilgai), spotted deer, chinkara, blackbuck, Indian hare, or monkeys. Today, just go round to any agricultural field and you may find plenty of wild herbivores roaming the grounds freely and feeding on the crops and natural palatable plants therein.

When forests were abundant, ecologically sound and self-sufficient, the movement of wildlife inside the Protected Areas/forests in search of food would extend no further than the buffer zone. Over time, however, the alarming rise in human population has put immense pressure on forest wealth, leading gradually to large swathes of the forest, including the buffer zone and corridors, being converted into agriculture fields and industries, and cleared for the construction of urban zones, big dams, railway tracks, roads and highways, mining corridors, electricity transmission lines and other development works that massively reduce forest area and shrink good-quality wildlife habitats.

Resultantly, as wild herbivores made to move or migrate, through natural corridors, from one forest to another in search of food, they found themselves in agricultural fields, which are full of easily accessible feeding material. This has been the gradual effect of encroachment into the homes of wildlife by humans, compounding the human-wild animal conflict to boot. Exposed, such animals also come as easy prey for poachers or become roadkill. As per Delhi-based NGO Wildlife Protection Society of India (WPSI), over 1,000 tigers have been killed in the country by poachers over the last two decades. Over 650 instances of roadkill have been recorded in the last five years.

So, on the one hand, wildlife outside the protected areas is in great peril. On the other, farmers and locals in and around the forest-fringe areas are at a loss due to crop damage and the danger posed to human and livestock lives. The Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MOEF & CC) estimates that between 2014 and 2017, one death took place every day due to human-animal conflict. It is observed that the wild herbivores damage between 15-50% of the standing crops in the field and may affect 50-75% of the total agricultural area. Hence, a balanced solution in the form of a ‘Special Management Plan’ (SMP) is a need of hour, not only to protect wildlife outside protected areas and forests but also to safeguard human lives and livelihoods.

Q. On the basis of your reading and understanding of the above passage, answer the following:

  1. What is buffer zone ?
  2. What is the most important reason behind the massively reduced forest area ?
  3. What compounds the human-animal conflict ?
  4. State two reasons which have led to the decrease of animal population especially tigers, as discussed in the given passage.
  5. Which word in the passage means ‘edible’ ?
  6. Where would one find wild herbivores like Nilgai nowadays ?
  7. Farmers of which area are mostly affected by straying of wild herbivores into agricultural fields ?
    1. villages
    2. buffer zone
    3. edge of the forests
    4. towns
  8. The need of the hour is to :
    1. protect wildlife outside protected areas
    2. safeguard human lives and livelihood
    3. both (1) and (2)
    4. implement ‘Special Management Plan’

Answer

  1. Buffer zone is the natural habitat of the wild herbivores.
  2. The alarming rise of human population is the most important reason behind the massively reduced forest area.
  3. The encroachment of human habitation by animals in search of food compounds the human-wild animal conflict.
  4. Poaching and roadkill are the two reasons which have led to the decrease of animal population.
  5. palatable
  6. Agricultural fields
  7. edge of the forests
  8. implement ‘Special Management Plan’

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