The environment ministry approved last week the National Wildlife Action Plan (2017-2031) that shifts focus from management of protected areas to that of the entire landscape. For the first time, the plan calls to make people an intrinsic part of the process to check rising human-animal conflict.
In eight years since 2009, 2,920 people were killed by tigers and elephants, a jump of over 30% since 2000. While the traditional conflict zones remain, recent years have seen a spurt in new hotspots such as Pilibhit in Uttar Pradesh, Haziribagh in Jharkhand and Palakkad in Kerala because of fragmentation of wildlife corridors and degradation of forests.
“The plan is a major conservation shift as we are calling a spade a spade,” said Vinod B Mathur, director of Dehradun-based Wildlife Institute of India (WII). It was after Mathur’s presentation that the plan was approved by environment minister Harsh Vardhan. It is for the first time that the plan incorporates climate resilience and links it to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGS). It also underscores implementation of endangered species recovery plan of wild animals in all ecosystems — terrestrial, inland aquatic, costal and marine.
Mathur said the plan was approved at the last standing committee of the National Board for Wildlife meeting and it was decided that the government will seek funds from the private sector under their corporate social responsibility (CSR). The law makes it mandatory for companies to spare 2% of their profit for CSR. “Implementing the action plan will be made part of the conditions in the forest and wildlife approval for projects,” a ministry official said.
The government’s funding for wildlife management has not increased substantially and in some states, the budget has shrunk despite revenue from tourism being on the rise. This concern was raised by wildlife experts in the committee but the officials did not have a solution. The plan will be launched during…