STRIKING THE BALANCE

Editorial GREATER JAMMU

The Lt Governor Manoj Sinha has quite rightly pointed out that participation of local community is very significant for the protection of biodiversity and wildlife conservation in an effective manner. While this Union Territory has many a times witnessed human-wildlife conflicts resulting in loss of human as well as wild lives, at the same time it needs to be realized that nature tourism including wildlife tourism is an important factor that provides employment and livelihood opportunities to local people and therefore wildlife has to be preserves at all costs. However, there is a dire need to strike a reasonable and just balance in order to resolve the human-wildlife conflict for which it is necessary to conduct a thorough analysis of all the relevant factors that lead to the aforesaid conflicts. It is an acknowledged fact that human interactions with wildlife are a defining experience of human existence. These interactions can be positive or negative. People compete with wildlife for food and resources and have gone to the extent of eradicating dangerous species besides co-opting and domesticating useful and valuable species. Moreover, they have applied a wide range of social, behavioral, and technical approaches to reduce negative interactions with wildlife. This conflict has led to the extinction and reduction of numerous species and uncountable human deaths too besides of course the economic losses. Recent advances in understanding the conflict have led to a growing number of positive conservation and coexistence outcomes. To summarize, the factors that contribute to conflict and the approaches that mitigate conflict encouraging coexistence it is necessary to make a mention of some of these factors especially scale and complexity, models and scenarios, understanding generalized patterns, expanding boundaries of the conflict, using new tools and technologies, information sharing and collaboration, and last but not the least the implications of global change. There is a need for scholars and practitioners from different disciplinary perspectives to come together on a common platform in order to address the human-wildlife conflict and promote coexistence which is in the ultimate interest of the entire flora and fauna across the globe. Massive awareness needs to be created across the cross sections of the society that forests and woodlands have an important environmental role and provide essential services for hundreds of millions of people in this world. These sustain the resources on which so many communities around the world rely on for their livelihoods, as well as the broader food security, climate regulation and economic stability for the entire world. Let’s learn from those who live within forests and after that highlight the critical importance of forests not only for humanity but also for the wildlife followed by final discussion on how we can make our relationship with all the wildlife species more sustainable. While threadbare discussions and deliberations were held in the third meeting of the Wildlife Board of J&K Union Territory chaired by the Lt. Governor Manoj Sinha and important directions were passed to the Wildlife department to make a comprehensive strategy and increase awareness, especially amongst the population vulnerable to human-wildlife conflict, it is hoped that the aforesaid highlighted factors are duly considered before finalizing any proactive strategy to address this significant issue. Only then it would be possible to strike a balance between development and protection of precious wildlife wealth and leaving no scope for such conflicts in future.