“Human-wildlife conflicts are one of the major challenges in wildlife conservation today. In just one year, the ‘WildSeve’ team of Wildlife Conservation Society has helped file claims in 3,261 incidents of crop and property damage by elephants and other herbivores, 148 cases of livestock predation by big cats and wild dogs, 11 cases of injury and 2 deaths among human victims of the conflict in 284 villages surrounding Bandipura and Nagarahole National Parks. Of these, 2,998 toll free calls came from Bandipur and 422 from Nagarahole. In this ongoing initiatives, till now, nearly 1000 families have either received or are about to receive substantial and fair compensation” says, Dr Krithi K Karanth, a conservation scientist with the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS, New York).
WildSeve, a non-profit conservation initiative, works as an intermediary between farm families facing economic losses and the State Forest Department mandated to help them.
Dr Krithi K Karanth had launched the ‘WildSeve’ project in 284 villages surrounding Bandipura and Nagarahole National Parks, two of India’s premier tiger reserves in July, 2015. This user friendly mobile technology based platform integrates a toll free number that farmers can call to report a wildlife conflict incident. Motorcycle borne trained responders, located strategically in the affected areas, rush and assist families in filing compensation claims, completing all due processes including fair assessment of the damage. They act as intermediaries between people and government agencies, ensuring transparency.
Dr Krithi Karanth says, “WildSeve arose from 7 years of my research on understanding the complexities of human-wildlife interactions across India and finding that compensation has a role to play in fostering tolerance towards wildlife. It offers a rare opportunity to help people directly affected by conflict in the hope that they will tolerate their losses and not retaliate against wildlife. It is a brilliant example of how creativity and innovation can bring technologists and wildlife conservationists together to develop simple solutions that can have powerful transformative impacts on society. WildSeve allows us to respond to people instantly, help with the onerous process of claiming compensation and tracks the efficacy of the entire process.”
Her previous research found that less than one third of rural families in India experiencing crop loss, property damage, livestock predation as well as human injury and sometimes death, received the government mandated compensation payment around India’s wildlife reserves, in which, populations of globally threatened species like tiger, leopard, wild dog, elephants are now rebounding.