Since 2015, we have received calls from 7756 families living on the fringes of Bandipur and Nagarahole National Parks. Below we share some unique stories of human-wildlife interactions, people’s tolerance and attitudes towards wildlife and the problems they face living with wildlife.
The remote village of N Belathur borders Nagarahole Tiger Reserve, and here we found another account of incredible tolerance to wildlife with Ananthkumar and his family. Having farmed on his ancestral land for over 50 years, he has several stories to tell about the wildlife that has frequented his village over the years. He recalled seeing his livestock being taken by predators in front of his eyes numerous times, and feeling completely helpless – a trend that he feels has increased over the past two decades. Additionally, he was completely unaware that there existed a governmental mechanism for compensation for livestock loss and crop loss. Despite having suffered massive losses due to wildlife, he does not appear to resent them. He shared with us that he belonged to the Jain community that harbours a culture of not causing harm to any living creatures, and thus had silently incurred the losses without any retaliation while receiving no compensation.
On finding out about Wild Seve through one of our village publicity drives, he got in touch with our team. He was glad to hear that we also provided financial support in building permanent cattle sheds for families that have seen repeated cases of livestock predation, as well as in villages where such incidents occur quite frequently. Ananthkumar was more than willing to invest in this effort, and with our support he now has the largest cattle shed out of all the structures we have helped build so far.
He has called us thrice, and though his cases are documented and registered, he is yet to receive compensation which is still being processed by the forest department. Yet, he is grateful for now having a cattle-shed, and also optimistic about receiving compensation. He says, “After finding out through Wild Seve that a compensation mechanism exists, for the first time I am hopeful of receiving payment for the losses that I have incurred over the years.”
Wildlife in their backyard is a daily affair for Ramesh and his mother Lakshmamma, who live in a joint family in the village of Nagapatnam, bordering Bandipur. Leopards and tigers have preyed on their livestock countless times during grazing, and elephants and wild pigs often raid their crops – amounting to a recorded loss of up to Rs 45,000. Despite having lived in an area that sees a high level of interaction with wildlife for several years, they spoke to us of the lessons learned observing animals during this time – that if left alone, wildlife does not come near humans, and will leave without causing much harm.
Despite having had a good relationship with the forest department over the years, Ramesh understood that calling the forest officials every day for conflict was not practical, and he would often end up not registering all his crop loss cases. Ever since he got in touch with us, he’s grateful that the quick response and organised functioning of the Wild Seve team has ensured that all his crop loss or livestock cases are properly recorded and compensation received. He has called the helpline 10 times and received compensation worth Rs 12,830.
Madappa had lost hope on farming entirely, due to losses incurred by elephant conflict every year. He found that though the forest department officials did come to survey the losses, the process of arranging for documents to file was tedious and could take days. He suffered heavy losses in his harvest of jackfruit, Mango and coconut, but he couldn’t afford to leave the farm and go arrange for compensation documents.
Since finding out that there was another helpline available to help with losses relating to human-wildlife conflict, Madappa rang up our helpline and has since gotten in touch 19 times. He says, “We know now that even if we incur damage, we are assured compensation from the government, thanks to Wild Seve”. We have helped him receive Rs 56,700 for his losses so far, with some cases remaining in the pipeline.
Some remarkable stories of tolerance to wildlife dwell in the families that reside in the forest fringes of Bandipur, and Mudappa’s is one of them. With the casual monotony of someone narrating menial happenings, he recalls the time he saw a leopard fretting in his backyard drag his domestic goat out of its shed. Over time, Mudappa has incurred losses worth Rs. 74,200 due to livestock predation and elephant raiding, but he does not seem to harbour any visible resentment towards wildlife. “Living so close to the forest, I face wildlife raiding my crops very often, but I tend not to retaliate that much. They are wild animals, we can not expect them to not move around.”
His village, Hadanur is less than three kilometres away from the forests of Bandipur and naturally, this has meant frequent dealings with wildlife, resulting in heavy losses for farmers in the area. Summer is a tough time for Mudappa because his mango harvest is often raided by elephants. He shared with us that filing for compensation used to be a hassle, with having to arrange logistics like travel or hiring a photographer for documentation. Sometimes the file would not reach the office, and on the rare occasion that compensation did reach him, it would be around Rs 100 or 200 – much lesser than the amount he had spent. He expresses relief over the quick and structured operation of the Wild Seve team. “The process is very organised now and has resulted in an increase in the amount of compensation received as well. I am glad that I do not have to spend time and money in filing for these documents myself as the team always arrives immediately after calling.” He has since called in 17 times to report crop losses and received Rs 7,370 in compensation, with more cases registered and pending.
Swamy is well-known in his village Kundkere for his eccentricities, most notably the time he decided to lock up forest guards in their office. The reason? His village is located on the edge of Bandipur National Park and over the years, the consistent crop raiding by wild elephants that frequent his banana fields resulted in him losing up to Rs. 70,000 worth of harvest. After years of filing for crop-compensation claims with the forest department that never got processed (and spending his own savings in arranging logistics for documentation), he saw no other way to bring attention to the continuous loss of his harvest.
Later, on finding out that he could ask for help through a simple helpline, Swamy dialled the toll-free number that connected him with Wild Seve. Impressed with the quick response time of the team in reaching him, and documenting and filing for losses, Swamy has now registered with Wild Seve eight times and received compensation of Rs. 48,600 for seven reported cases. Needless to say, this is much more than he ever received while filing for compensation with the forest department. He now calls every time he faces crop or property damage due to wildlife. He says, “Even though compensation still can take a long time to arrive, I am just happy someone is listening to our problems and helping us with compensation issues.”