Order of the Kerala High Court on human-animal conflict situations, 12/02/2024

  • 12/02/2024

Order of the Kerala High Court in the matter of human-animal conflict from Mananthavady in Wayanad district. A man was attacked and killed by a wild elephant in the precincts of his house. The court was informed that the elephant in question is one that was radio-collared by the wildlife officials in the neighbouring state of Karnataka pursuant to its repeated forays into human settlements there.

The Kerala High Court expressed grave concern with the pace at which the Kerala government has chosen to act in the matter of setting up infrastructural facilities for preventing such conflict situations in the area and in fact as early as on March 29, 2023 while dealing with a conflict situation involving another elephant, the HC had constituted a Committee of Experts (CoE) to advise the court in matters of human-elephant conflict situations in the state. The HC was informed that although the CoE has been convening and holding meetings, they have not been receiving the required assistance from the state.

The residents of those districts in the state that border forest areas "cannot be made to live in perpetual fear of animal attack on their person or property", the order said. The Kerala High Court directed the Additional Chief Secretary, General Administration Department, Kerala to submit a plan within ten days (on or before February 23, 2024). The plan would consist of immediate short term steps that will be taken to prevent the straying of wild animals into human settlements in Wayanad district.

"The short term plan should be one that will be implemented within a month thereafter, and will be in addition to the long term measures suggested by the CoE that will be implemented simultaneously in a phased manner", said the order.

The Kerala HC recommended that it would be in the best interests of all the state governments concerned - Kerala, Tamil Nadu and Karnataka to engage in dialogues and arrive at an agreement for mutual cooperation in the matter of resolving human-animal conflict situations. State borders exist only for the human population and not for the animals who roam freely through the forests adjacent to human settlements in all the three states, the HC said.