WildSeve: Addressing Human-Wildlife Conflict In India
Addressing human-wildlife conflicts is one of the major challenges in wildlife conservation today. Previous research by Dr. Krithi K. Karanth, a conservation scientist with the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS, New York) found that less than one third of rural families in India experiencing crop loss, property damage, livestock predation as well as human injury and sometimes death, received the government mandated compensation payment around India’s wildlife reserves, in which, populations of globally threatened species like the tiger, leopard, wild dog, elephants are now rebounding.
Photo: Dr. Krithi Karanth.
In 2015, Dr. Krithi Karanth launched the ‘WildSeve’ Project in 284 villages surrounding Bandipura and Nagarahole National Parks, two of India’s premier tiger reserves. This user friendly mobile technology based platform integrates a toll free number that farmers can call to report a wildlife conflict incident. ‘WildSeve’, a non-profit conservation initiative, works as an intermediary between farm families facing economic losses and the State Forest Department mandated to help them.
Farmers facing a wildlife conflict incident can call the toll free number to report an incident. Motorcycle borne trained responders, located strategically in the affected areas, rush and assist families in filing compensation claims, completing all due processes including fair assessment of the damage. They act as intermediaries between people and government agencies, ensuring transparency.
In just one year, the WildSeve team has already helped file claims in 3261 incidents of crop and property damage by elephants and other herbivores, 148 cases of livestock predation by big cats and wild dogs, 11 cases of injury and 2 deaths among human victims of the conflict. Of these, 2998 toll free calls came from Bandipur and 422 from Nagarahole. Till date, nearly 1000 families have either received or are about to receive substantial and fair compensation.
Dr. Krithi Karanth says “WildSeve arose from 7 years of my research on understanding the complexities of human-wildlife interactions across India and finding that compensation has a role to play in fostering tolerance towards wildlife. It offers a rare opportunity to help people directly affected by conflict in the hope that they will tolerate their losses and not retaliate against wildlife. It is a brilliant example of how creativity and innovation can bring technologists and wildlife conservationists together to develop simple solutions that can have powerful transformative impacts on society. WildSeve allows us to respond to people instantly, help with the onerous process of claiming compensation and tracks the efficacy of the entire process”.
Over the long term, WildSeve through its thousands of case histories will build a system that identifies high conflict regions, villages and vulnerable families that require short and long term assistance. In one year it has identified 787 families who experienced multiple incidents of crop raiding and 18 families who lost livestock repeatedly.
Dr. John Robinson, WCS Executive Vice President of Conservation and Science adds, “WildSeve is proving to be a good example of how technology is key to advancing conservation solutions. I applaud Dr. Krithi Karanth and collaborator Nikhil Velpanur for designing a simple solution for a complex challenge and Oracle for having the vision to fund it. I am optimistic that we can learn from this work and apply it globally.”
“Oracle is extremely proud to support WildSeve,” said Colleen Cassity, Executive Director of Oracle Giving, which supports Dr. Karanth’s work at WCS as well as the work of other scientists and conservationists in India and Africa helping to save big cats in the wild as part of the National Geographic Society’s Big Cats Initiative. “It’s vital that we educate local communities on how to coexist and flourish with big cats and other wildlife in their backyards. Ensuring that famers affected by wildlife get help is equally vital. WildSeve is a simple, brilliant solution toward achieving both ends.”
WildSeve was developed by the WCS India program in collaboration with technology entrepreneur Nikhil Velpanur (a TED Fellow) and his team. Nikhil says “that he was inspired by listening to Krithi speak of her work at INK and offered to help in any way”. WildSeve is a product of this collaboration. He states that he is “humbled by the impact and the WCS field staff are the true heroes of WildSeve”.
WildSeve was supported by the Oracle, Rufford Grants and National Geographic Society’s Big Cats Initiative.