Human-crocodile conflict mitigation in Gujarat (Principal Investigator: Soham Mukherjee)
In the last 4-5 years, the State of Gujarat has witnessed an increase in crocodile attacks, with over half of the 42 crocodile attacks reported in India in 2014 occurring in Gujarat. Of these attacks alone, 12 resulted in human deaths, and the remaining in severe- sometimes permanent- injuries. This has resulted in an intensification of conflict, concurrent with a rise in negative attitudes amongst locals.
Presently, Human Crocodile Conflict (HCC) continues unabated in Gujarat- especially in Vadodara, Bharuch, and Narmada districts. Its management is ineffective owing to a one-dimensional approach and the absence of proper guidelines for addressing HCC. The mitigation of HCC, however, requires a multifaceted, holistic approach.
Our project, in close collaboration with our conservation partner Soham Mukherjee (naja.in), will devise and carry out strategies to systematically address various stages of HCC (prior to attacks on people, after attacks, before/after capture) to achieve this. Incorporating both scientific tools and active local participation, the objectives of our project are:
Investigation of HCC in Gujarat:
To develop sound solutions, we will first examine the status quo on HCC by analyzing
– Population and habitat utilisation of the species in concern- the mugger crocodile (Crocodylus palustris);
– Seasonality, locations and causes of attacks;
– Existing mitigation measures and responses to attacks;
– Existing attitudes towards crocodiles and HCC.
Geo-spatial mapping of pattern of HCC in Gujarat
Using existing data and GIS, we will identify habitat utilization, main predictors of conflict and identify the areas with potential risk of crocodile attack.
Educational and awareness programs, and capacity building for crocodile conservation
In the vulnerable areas identified, we will conduct capacity building workshops for the forest department staff that deal with HCC on the field. For the general population, we will also publish pamphlets and conduct sessions to increase awareness of preventative and compensatory measures (State-sponsored schemes) relating to crocodile attacks.
Preparing a manual for the management of HCC in Gujarat
The manual will be an interdisciplinary effort, and will be published and distributed amongst forest staff in Gujarat to enable them to address HCC effectively.
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