At least 260 people have been killed and 10,955 were injured in man-animal conflict during last five years in Madhya Pradesh, making it a serious cause of concern for the state forest officials.
Besides, 22 tigers, leopards, bears, wild boars, jackals and other carnivores have been killed by humans during the same period.
According to the Forest department data, 51 people were killed by wild animals in 2011-12, 48 each in 2012-13 and 2013-14; 61 in 2014-15 and 52 in 2015-16.
Likewise, 3,181 people were injured in man-animal conflict in 2011-12, 2,906 in 2012-13, 2,092 in 2013-14, 1,334 in 2014-15 and 1,442 in 2015-16, the data reveals.
25,344 cattle also killed in the past five years. Recently, a minor girl was mauled to death by a tiger in Bagda forest range of Hoshangabad district on November 19.
Wildlife activist Ajay Dubey blamed the depleting forest cover in MP and encroachment in forested areas as the major reasons for rise in incidents of man-animal conflict.
The forest officials, on condition of anonymity, also said that encroachments in forest area is a disturbing trend. With reports of tigers sneaking into human settlement and killing cattle around the state capital being received at regular intervals, Principal Chief Conservator of Forests (Wildlife) Jitendra Agrawal said.
It is because the settlements have come up just close to the forest areas, he said.
“Some times, these tigers are sneaking out of their habitat in search of prey and the area which acts like a buffer and divides the human and animal habitat is shrinking around Bhopal,” Agrawal said.
“We have placed four cameras around Bhopal and are maintaining vigil day in and day out to avoid man-animal conflict,” he stressed.
Agrawal said presence of 10 wild tigers, including cubs, has been reported in Bhopal forest division recently.
Dubey, the founder secretary of NGO Prayatna, said forest area in MP has shrunk by three per cent, as per a latest report, and cited it to be a major reason for man-animal conflict.
The area has shrunk due to mining and felling of trees in the forested area and the failure of forest department officials to check it, he alleged.
The forest officials have also failed to check illegal encroachments in the forests, he charged.
PCCF Agrawal also said that “excess mining, dams construction and heavy traffic movement in forested area causes animal attacks on humans”.
He said construction in forested areas affects the habitat of animals which, to some extent, is the cause of man-animal conflict.
“The wild animals to some extent compromise with the urbanisation in and around their habitat,” he said.
However, Agrawal denied that the forest area in MP has shrunk and that it was the major reason for the attack by wild animals on human beings.
“People should avoid visiting areas which are home to carnivores and in unavoidable circumstance if they enter such places, they should move in a group and make loud noise.”
This will, for sure, bring down the incidents of attacks on humans, he said.
The forest ground duty staffers too venture in the jungles but they don’t come under the attack of wild animals as they take precautions, he contended.
“If you enter protected jungles you are bound to face wild animals,” he said.
The man-animal conflict usually takes place when people take short route and enter the wild animals’ corridor or habitat, the senior forest official said.
Agrawal said it was wrong to dub the carnivores which kill people as ‘man-eaters’, as they attack in self-defence.
A total sum of Rs 24.89 crore has been disbursed in last five years either as compensation to families of the deceased, to the injured and those who lost their cattle in the attacks by wild animals, and as relief for the crop damage, forest officials said.