Home Flora & Fauna Fences do not resolve conflicts but exacerbate it

Fences do not resolve conflicts but exacerbate it

by Staff Correspondent
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The TrickyScribe: Elephants have large home ranges traveling over great distances, not just because they are copious consumers, but also they propagate seeds where ever they go, making them gardeners of forests, shaping ecosystems.

Fencing a tiger reserve, a place earmarked for wildlife, preventing their movement by forest department, entrusted with the protection of elephants is shocking, said conservationist Prern Bindra. It is unacceptable! Importantly, studies show, fences do not resolve conflicts but exacerbate it, she said.

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This goes diagonally against elephant ecology; they try and find a passage, somehow. With tragic consequences, time and again! When we block elephant passages, this happens. The fencing around Nagarahole tiger reserve in Karnataka has killed the elephant, even as government and even some so-called scientists claim such fencings are harmless.

The chased down elephant from a nearby village Bharthawadi was trying to get into the forest and as unable to do so because of the fence. It died while trying to jump over the fence to get into the forest. The way we are losing, killing elephants is heart-rending. A PIL filed with Supreme Court is opposing such fencing around forests.

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In this case, a poor elephant was reportedly escaping the mob of irate villagers who were chasing and hounding it, back into the forest, and was prevented by the fence leading to its torturous death. And, this is an animal we worship as Ganesha, our National Heritage Animal. So deep-rooted in our culture, held sacred, intelligent, empathetic and social yet, this is the sorry fate of our National Heritage Animal.

What are Corridors?

Corridors, in the larger space of ecological conservation, occupy a unique niche for their role and vitality in species conservation. Corridors have been generally understood to be ‘linear landscape elements, meant to establish and facilitate connectivity across habitats; increase survivorship by increasing the diversity of specific gene pools.

Wildlife corridors, used by various species to migrate, breed and feed, are increasingly becoming relevant as essential tools for wildlife conservation. Skyrocketing industrial- and infrastructural-development, especially around forests, has resulted in widespread habitat fragmentation and isolation.

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Some argue that they are merely temporary-use habitat connectors, while others hold the view that they are permanent integral parts of the habitat ranges of animals. Structure and functionalities of corridors are also highly specific to the species that use them.

Seasonal migration patterns, availability of food and water requirements are completely different for tigers and elephants – and therefore the corridors connecting their habitats must be different in terms of function, form and context although the obvious function of corridors is to facilitate physical movement.

Regional Population: What makes situation grim?

Fragmented sub-populations of single species, regional populations, interact through linkages to supplement Meta population gene pool and the success of this mechanism is premised on the inviolate nature of the source populations.

There is an inherent cyclical causative nexus between scientific management of protected areas and positive effects of corridors in promoting biodiversity and sustenance of Meta populations. Omnipresent variable of human–wildlife conflict makes apparent how delicate the exercise of corridor delineation and management actually is.

What makes us protect wildlife corridors?

Need to protect wildlife corridors is increasingly gaining traction in world over making habitat fragmentation one of the biggest challenges to biodiversity conservation. Immediate and growing threats of climate change and other anthropogenic pressures on natural habitats notwithstanding, a wildlife corridor is needed as a legal tool for ecological conservation.

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Difficulty stems from the very nature of a corridor, completely different in function and form, depending upon the species that is used to typify it. Their criticality in biodiversity conservation is nevertheless moot.

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