Crop and livestock depredation caused by wild animals in protected areas: the case of Sariska Tiger Reserve, Rajasthan, India
Wild animals often destroy standing crops and prey on livestock, causing economic losses to farmers. Crop and wildlife damage are becoming serious for many Indian protected areas, and this study aimed to characterize the problem in villages in and around the Sariska Tiger Reserve (STR), Rajasthan, India. Data were collected using a semi-structured questionnaire in 37 villages followed by a semi-structured questionnaire administered to 180 households, quadrat sampling and focus group discussions. Crop and livestock depredation evidently affected nearly half of the households in villages adjacent to the STR, but damage varied considerably amongst villages and with distance from the Reserve border. Wild animal distribution and protection measures which people adopted also influenced the damage. Nilgai (Boselaphus tragocamelus() and wild boar ((Sus scrofa() were reported to be responsible for at least half of the total damage to the major crops caused by wild animals. Tigers and leopards were the main livestock predators; the former preyed mostly on larger livestock and the latter on smaller animals such as goats and sheep. More than two-thirds of the villagers spent considerable time and money guarding crops and protecting livestock. Guarding was the most popular means followed by physical fences around fields. In spite of damage to crops and livestock, the local people still had a positive attitude towards the STR, because of tangible benefits derived from the Reserve in terms of fodder and fuelwood, and cultural/religious attitudes towards wild animals. Settlement of rights to collect fuelwood and fodder within the Reserve appears to be one acceptable measure to compensate for losses besides an immediate review of hunting policy. Suggestions given by local people to minimize losses have implications for the long term sustainability of the STR as a protected area.(Received November 3 1997)
(Accepted March 11 1998)
Key Words: Crop damage ; livestock depredation; protected areas; local people; wildlife.
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