Minimizing livestock depredation by tigers through modification of livestock shed by chain link fences with community participation in Kaziranga National Park
by The Corbett Foundation
KNP is an important tiger conservation unit in India with one of the highest density of tigers in the world.
During 2013, 246 livestock depredations by tiger were reported from KNP and study showed that Central Range is most conflict-prone followed by Agartoli Range. Majority of existing livestock shed in proposed project sites are vulnerable for tiger depredation. Thus, livestock depredation is generating a negative attitude among the community towards tiger conservation. Modified livestock sheds with chain link fences in Ladakh and Africa proved to be effective in reducing livestock depredation and strengthening the conservation initiative by reducing antagonistic attitude.
Update October 2019
India is known to harbour the largest population of Bengal tiger, Panthera tigris tigris, amongst the 13 range countries in Asia (Seidensticker et al. 1999). Tiger in India is potentially distributed over 300,000 km2 of forest areas (Wikramanayake et al. 1999). However, existence of tiger is threatened in the country due to habitat degradation and fragmentation, retaliatory killing due to conflict, transport accidents, prey depletion, poaching and development projects (Seidensticker et al. 1999, Karanth 2001).
The Kaziranga National Park in the state of Assam in India’s northeast is an important tiger conservation unit in India with one of the highest density of tigers in the world. Kaziranga tigers are considered as a source population for the entire northeast region of India (Jhala et al., 2008). The Park houses a good population of the mega species like the One-horned rhinoceroses, Asian elephant, Water buffalo and Eastern swamp deer in addition to the tiger. The major challenge of living around KNP is the damage caused by wildlife (Di Fonzo 2007). During 2013, 246 livestock depredations by tiger was reported from KNP and study showed that Central Range was most conflict prone followed by Agartoli Range. The local communities are entirely dependent on agriculture where domestic livestock play an important role. In peak farming season, losing one ploughing bullock could adversely affect the agricultural activities and minimize the income form farming. Thus, tiger depredation becomes an important issue in KNP which generates a negative attitude among the local community towards tiger conservation.
Community-based modified livestock sheds / corrals with chain link fences proved to be very effective in reducing livestock and sheep lifting by snow leopard and lions and reduced retaliatory killing of large carnivores drastically and strengthened the conservation initiative by reducing negative attitude of local community (Maheswari et al 2012, Lichtenfeld et al 2015).
As part of the project, the team from The Corbett Foundation (TCF) collected secondary conflict data available with Kaziranga National Park authority and also carried out informal interviews of community members living in the fringe of KNP. Based on the database and interview, TCF team selected few villages which were more vulnerable to tiger attacks. But due to prolonged monsoon and two waves of flood, these villages remained inaccessible. As soon as the floodwater receded, TCF team organized community consultation meetings with the community members of Dergayapam and Ahom Gaon villages at the edge of Kaziranga National Park. These villages face one of the highest degree of human-wildlife conflict.
TCF team members lead by Dr. Naveen Pandey (MVetSC, Deputy Director and Veterinary Advisor, TCF Kaziranga) and Mr. Dibyajyoti Saikia (Community Facilitator, TCF) discussed the need and efficacy of the chain-linked fencing and explained the methods for installation of the fencing. During the meeting the community members gladly accepted the offer made by TCF on behalf of Van Tienhoven Foundation and agreed to form a village level committee which will be looking after the installation and maintenance of the fences. The community members also agreed to provide desired manpower and other necessary items such as bamboo poles etc. during construction and installation of these modified livestock shed. After meeting the team also visited few existing livestock sheds with merely provides no protection from tigers where villagers also expressed their deep concern about tiger depredation specially in the winter months.
TCF team would initiate the fencing work as soon the village level committee is formed the community members. TCF team had already identified a suitable vendor for procurement of chain-link fencing material. The team would organize similar consultative meetings in other villages and would initiate the modification of sheds with community participation by end of October 2019.
At present the local community has been provided an incubation period of two weeks for them to discuss among themselves on how best they wish the project to be implemented.