Govt must put in efforts to stop human-animal conflicts

Published at 12:00am on March 04, 2021

HUMAN-ANIMAL conflicts remain a concern because of their adverse impact on the local wildlife. A number of reasons play a role for such conflicts. One of the main reasons, as experts say, is the misleading nomenclature of many wild animals in Bangla, which gives rise to unfounded fears in people of the animals. The fishing cat, for example, is a harmless medium-sized wild cat local to South and Southeast Asia. But the Bangla name for the animal is ‘mechho bagh’, or fishing tiger, which invokes fears. It is the same for ‘chita biral’, or leopard cat, which may resemble small leopards but do not attack people. Skinks are a type of harmless lizard, but their Bangla name ‘rakta chosha’ means blood-sucker, thus making people fearful of them. Although such animals pose no threat, people often attack or kill them because of the irrational fear they associate with the animals because of their names. In such a situation, it is the responsibility of the government to take necessary steps to dispel the misconception that people have regarding the animals and a proper naming of the animals in Bangla could be the first step to this end.

Changing the names of some animals will not, however, remove the misconception about them overnight or prevent people from attacking them. Society at large has an important role in ensuring the safety of all wild animals. The government and the authorities concerned need to educate people in issues such as the importance of wildlife conservation and the role of animals in safeguarding biodiversity because the killing of wild animals for sport, poaching or illegally selling them are not uncommon. Large-scale awareness campaigns need to be run to properly educate and motivate people because an unrestrained killing of harmless animals will gradually make them extinct and threaten the local biodiversity. The government should also consider framing proper rules and regulations and strictly enforce them to protect the wildlife. This is also essential to minimise conflicts between humans and animals because in such cases people and animals both often lose their lives or become injured. Conflicts between humans and animals have become a common occurrence over years for which experts blame deforestation and the continual destruction of wildlife habitats. A strict enforcement of regulations and awareness campaigns can ensure the protection of both humans and wild animals in this regard. The government is committed to protecting the environment in its efforts to reach the sustainable development goals. But this commitment will not be fulfilled until the protection of all wild animals is ensured.

The government must, therefore, consider changes in names of the animals to prevent them from being killed because of misconception. The government and the authorities concerned must also strictly enforce the laws and rules to protect both humans and the wildlife. Awareness campaigns must also be run at all levels of society for a longer duration to properly educate people in this issue.