“I have now worked in seven states across India, and we’ve looked at human-wildlife interactions, particularly human-wildlife conflict ranging from crop loss, livestock predation, human death, human injury and property damage.”
Krithi Karanth, a Wildlife Conservation Society researcher also affiliated with India’s Centre for Wildlife Studies and Duke University in the U.S.
“Fortunately most of the losses are crop losses and to a much lower extent livestock predation, property damage, human injury and human death occur…the policies and procedures for compensation varies hugely among states in India, but there is a compensation process in most states. What we also found is that less than 30 percent of affected people are filing. They’re very frustrated with the bureaucracy…so in 2013 I thought of an idea, because I travel for hundreds of villages across India for my research projects. And we realized that everybody had access to cell phones-it was very simple for people to call in and report an incident. So with my collaborator Nikhil Velpanur, in 2013 we set up a web portal and a technology platform that integrates a toll-free number with the ability to address calls that came in.
“So the idea is very simple. Anybody experiencing a conflict incident calls in to the toll-free number and our field coordinator assigns our field agents to go and evaluate the problem. Once the evaluation is done we help them file the documentation…and so in 2015 we launched Project Wild Seve in Bandipore and Nagarahole National Parks. We covered over 300 villages by distributing 30000 pamphlets. What we’ve been able to achieve I think has far exceeded my expectations and is pretty remarkable. In a year, we’ve helped over 3400 cases files and recorded with the government. This has allowed almost 1000 families who have already achieved compensation and another 2400 well on their way to receiving compensation.
“I feel that Wild Seve is scalable and adaptable to any place or any country in the world where we see human-wildlife conflict. It’s a simple system that works off a toll-free number which can be established anywhere…it is not the only solution to addressing human-wildlife conflicts, but it’s certainly one tool we have in our toolbox, and certainly from an Indian perspective it’s very much part of our policies.”