Commend Sustainable Human-Wildlife Coexistence Research

Target: National Geographic Conservation Biologist Dr. Krithi K. Karanth

Goal: Thank conservation scientists researching Indian people’s attitudes toward wildlife in order to reduce killing of endangered species while supporting human populations.

Several million people in rural Indian villages depend upon livestock and crops to survive. Wild predators like tigers and leopards or even passing elephants or pigs consequently pose a serious threat to these people’s livelihood, and in extreme cases, their lives. Conservation scientists like National Geographic’s “emerging explorer” Dr. Krithi K. Karanth recognize the tension between humans and wildlife that has led to major losses in crops and livestock, along with such brutal acts as landowners poisoning leopards or villages mobbing tigers.

In order to expose the underling roots of the issue, these scientists are addressing a surprising dearth of data by researching mitigation methods informed by biology and direct feedback from the people themselves. Often rural villages that depend on agriculture for income are the most vulnerable to conflicts with local wildlife. Yet, according to Dr. Karanth’s research, most villagers use mitigation techniques as opposed to outright violence, putting up fencing, erecting above-ground watch posts, and using guard dogs to prevent livestock losses.

These methods, effective in cutting but not preventing losses entirely, reflect an underlying respect for animal life, Dr. Karanth testifies. One woman the scientist met had lost all her crops to pigs, but still asserted, “This is as much our home as it is theirs.” Often grounded in religion and culture, this perhaps unexpected “tolerance” has enabled India to support threatened, “charismatic” animals like the leopard, the tiger, and the elephant. In addition to conducting earnest evaluations of various mitigation practices to inform investment, the next step, by Dr. Karanth’s assessment, is for the Indian government to improve documentation of crop losses to facilitate compensation to people who suffered crop damages and livestock losses.

By signing the petition below, you can applaud Dr. Karanth’s on-the-ground approach to guiding ways to sustain both animal and human populations alike.

PETITION LETTER:

Dear National Geographic Conservation Biologist Dr. Krithi K. Karanth,

I would like to express my appreciation for your recent research on human-wildlife conflict and mitigation techniques in rural Indian villages. Domestic and international newspapers showcase tensions between villagers suffering from crop losses and livestock damages and violence against majestic, threatened animals like tigers, leopards, and elephants. Entering into this highly charged atmosphere, your on-the-ground approach that combines biology with feedback from the people themselves helpfully exposes the underlying roots of this complex issue.

That you are revealing a dynamic culture which both respects animal life and seeks to protect its people’s way of life is refreshing, enlightening, and most of all, key in garnering the support needed to enact change within these communities. Emphasizing critical research and analysis to back these changes, your proposed evaluation of mitigation techniques and call for Indian government to improve records of losses and damages represents remarkable leadership in conservation science. I wish you the best of luck in your future projects and commend you sincerely on your work thus far.

Sincerely,

[Your Name Here]

Photo Credit: hsd3.org

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