“With all wild animals gone, all we will be left is, Nothing”
Said the old man from village. His tone was consistent with conservationist and scientist who works towards wildlife conservation and talks about translocation/re-introductions of wild animals is up for debate. In layman’s word, they are referring to Re-homing or moving animals from one place to other. It is a hot topic these days in wildlife circuits. By “Nothing” the old man meant, once animals are wiped out, forest will also diminish and everything necessary to sustain life will be vanished. Humans will suffer in long run. He favored re-homing, I assume.
To understand the quote better it is important to note that intention of re-homing is same in case of translocation or reintroductions. Translocation is defined as process of intentionally moving a living organism from one place and releasing to another place whereas reintroduction refers to intentionally moving living organisms to place of it’s origins. In both cases, parallels can be easily drawn. Both methods are designed for conserving forests and wildlife, to bring ecosystem back to it original shape and a steady state. What triggered this blog was discussion on translocation of tigers from Tadoba to Chandoli National park in western Maharashtra that is news today. You must have also heard of news about Cheetahs to be reintroduced to India, Asiatic lions to be translocated from Gir NP in Gujrat to Kuno in MP. It is indicative of changes in approach of conservation that will happen over next few decades. Whether it will be successful or not, only time will tell.
Let us look at what are the Top 3 benefits of rehoming wild animals.
- To increase genetic diversity. Inbreeding in same populace is known to cause to genetic anomalies and hence it is imperative that species which are small in numbers are mixed with other species of same kind from other geographical locations.
- Re-establishing a species. Many a times species are lost due to overhunting, loss of forest cover due to dams, diseases etc. In such cases, forest departments draws blue map to re-introduce the species and bring back the harmony of the local eco system. This ultimately helps in further conservation of the local flora and fauna.
- Reduce man-animal conflict. As a result of urbanization and unending need of various resources for human needs, the forests are chopped, dry scrub forest declared as waste-lands and converted into settlements for humans. Roads and dams are built through these areas. Since size of forest shrinks, man-animal conflict becomes unavoidable. With nowhere to go the animals will come out and interact with humans. This can be easily avoided by re-homing the overflowing populace of wild animals.
While re-homing wild-animals could be a long term solution to human problems but not all that shines is gold. We have witnessed success stories as well as miserable failures of rehoming animals in India. It is a job easier said than done. Let me put across in simple language the possible factors that lead to failure or success of re-homing process.
- Species/Population/Male-Female ratio
- Topography, food/water and habitat of the species
- Arrangements for transportation of animals/Veterinary medical assistance
- Regular monitoring of re-homed wild animals. Adapting to new solutions if need be
- Support of locals who live on edge of forests
I’m no conservationist, botanist or expert of wildlife management. However as a passionate wild lifer, I have observed the success/failure of re-homing lies in above 5 factors. Just to give an example from recent past, a tiger’s translocation failed because the locals killed the tiger that was re-introduced. Reason, locals didn’t have the acceptance for the project nor was proper monitoring done. At same time , we also have seen success of tiger translocation at Sariska, Panna etc. In earlier decade, we also witnessed successful translocation of 14 female and 5 male Gaurs from Kanha to Bandhavgarh. Kuddos to forest departments across India, who do there job relentlessly inspite of opposition from all ends and super criticism after failures.
To summarize all that I would say is re-homing animals could result in symbiotic coexistence for wildlife and human. However, I still have question why should animals be re-homed? For most of times, it is our human needs that have created this unwanted situation. Spirts of wild are in puzzle too.
They morally ask “Why we, humans should be re-homing perhaps?”