The conflict between humans and wildlife is an age-old one; however, due to the rapid growth of the human population and the subsequent reduction of natural habitat, it is acute now.
With rising instances of human-animal conflict in the state, Forest & Environment Minister, James K Sangma said the department is finding ways and means to prevent incidences of human-animal conflict.
This came following an incident where a 40-year-old man was grievously injured after he was attacked by a black bear in Pungweikyian village under Pynursla civil sub-division in East Khasi Hills district on Sunday.
Terming the incident as unfortunate, Sangma told reporters that there are many cases and incidents of human-animal conflict and that it is a very big concern for him.
“I have always raised this issue even as a legislator in the Assembly while I was in the opposition also. I think we need to find a very fine balance between humans and animals to have mutual respect and to learn how to peacefully coexist,” he said.
Stating that it is a challenging task, the minister said this is because the human population is growing and animal habitat is sadly on the decline and there are very few places now left for animals to live peacefully without any kind of human interference.
“This is a very big challenge not just in Meghalaya but all over the world and we are looking at how we can make sure that coexistence is more peaceful and thereby we can bring down these kinds of incidences where humans and animals come into conflict,” he said.
“It is a very big issue, this is one incident but there are many instances where these kinds of things keep happening some are reported and some go unreported but we feel that we need to find a balance,” he asserted.
Sangma also assured that the department is examining the matter related to the release of compensation to the victim.
It may be mentioned here that as many as 10 persons were arrested for killing an Asiatic Black Bear at Mawpyrthuh village, also falling under Pynursla civil sub-division in May earlier this year.
Asked, the minister said he understands the pain of the concerned individual (victim) and the families but the law is very clear that such animals which are endangered or critically endangered need to be protected.
“(However), as I was saying this is something that we are finding more and more cases keep coming up every now and then and I think it is about a long term solution and we need to look at how we plan out things for the future to reduce such (incidents) because at the end human population is increasing and as I said we need to find ways to make sure that the conflict between the two we can bring it on by peaceful coexistence,” he added.