The Kerala High Court has urged the State Government and Wildlife Authorities to expedite actions to deal with the human-wildlife conflict in Kerala.

The Bench of Chief Justice S. Manikumar and Justice Shaji P. Chaly made this observation while dealing with a writ petition filed by one Gaurav Tewari seeking adequate and effective measures to protect wild animals against brutal attacks from the outside world.

The petitioner who is an Indian citizen residing in Canada was compelled to file the instant petition due to brutal attacks on many wild animals across the state, particularly the incident in Kerala where a pregnant elephant died by eating pineapple filled with crackers.

Petitioner pointed out that the menace of wild elephants, which stray to habitat areas, occur in many States in India. However, most of the States have taken measures to keep these wild animals confined in the forest itself, as they felt prevention is better than cure. Petitioner contended that in the State of Kerala, steps were taken only when there was an attack by a pachyderm on a citizen.

Pursuant to the previous order of the Court, the Assistant Conservator of Forests & Liaison Officer, filed an affidavit on behalf of the Chief Wild Life Warden, Thiruvananthapuram, with the list of proposals and set of action taken to deal with the human-wildlife conflict in Kerala.

Senior Advocate M. Ramesh Chander represented the Petitioner. Assistant Solicitor General S. Manu and Central Government Counsel Jaishankar V. Nair appeared for the Respondents.

The Court was informed that all possible effective initiatives and steps were taken by the State for redressing the issues related to Human Wildlife Conflict.

It was submitted that the department had constructed solar power fence, elephant proof wall, rail fencing etc. to prevent wild animals especially wild elephant from entering human settlements and farm lands.

It was further submitted that to improve the habitats of wild animals, various activities like soil and moisture conservation activities, etc were carried out.

Further, fire protection activities were carried out every year to prevent casualties to Wildlife and degradation of wildlife habitats.

The Court was informed that 15 Rapid Response Teams were deployed in highly prone areas to drive away wild animals especially elephants straying into human settlements.

It was also submitted that compensation is paid for death, injury causing handicap and other injuries due to wildlife attack. Moreover, 261 Jana Jagratha Samithies are formed in various Panchayaths bordering forest areas for mitigating human animal conflict.

Additionally, it was submitted that the Kerala Forest Department has prepared a Multilayered Elephant Alert System (MEAS) for Forest and Railway Officials of Walayar in Palakkad District is under preparation.

Further, Comprehensive project to mitigate human animal conflict for next five years for Rs. 620 crores was submitted by the Kerala Forest & Wildlife Department to the State Government and pending consideration before the State Government for raising funds with Central assistance.

Therefore the Court opined "In the light of the above, in as much as the guidelines have been implemented and steps have also been taken as stated supra, we only observe that the proposals and the action to be taken, be expedited."

Cause Title- Gaurav Tewari v. Union of India

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