Most human deaths were in leopard and tiger attacks.

Most deaths were caused by tiger (38) and leopard (32)attacks.
With 88 human deaths, Maharashtra witnessed the worst-ever human-animal conflict in 2020 indicating significant consequences for the economy, human health, safety and welfare, and ecosystem.

According to information received under RTI by activist Abhay Kolarkar, most human deaths were in leopard and tiger attacks. The details sought for calendar years 2017 to 2020, show that conflict almost doubled in the period.

In 2017, 54 humans were killed with the state paying Rs 4.32 crore as compensation. In 2020, the figure had risen to 88 humans for which the state government paid Rs 12.75 crore compensation.

These deaths include 32 in attacks by leopards and 38 in attacks by tigers. Most of the tiger attack cases were from Chandrapur district. In the same period, there is also a drastic increase in cattle kills from 5,961 in 2017 to 9,258 in 2020.

"Human deaths in tiger attacks are more in 2020, compared to previous years. That is really worrying as most of these deaths have been reported in Vidarbha. Similar is the case with the attack by leopards but most of these are out of Vidarbha," said Kishor Rithe, state wildlife board member.

Kolarkar blamed shrinking habitats due to encroachments and deforestation main reason for human-animal conflict. Besides, Maharashtra has recorded an increase in both, tiger and leopard populations leading to conflict.

"Yet, no effort is being made to remove encroachments leading to the frequent interface of people with animals. Despite crores being spent on joint forest management (JFM) and eco-development committees (EDCs) conflict is increasing. Lack of proactive steps is leading to revenge killing of tigers and leopards," he said.

As per the All India Tiger and Leopard Estimation-2018, tiger number has increased from 190 in 2014 to 312 in 2018 and to 350 now. Similarly, leopard numbers have increased to 1,690, which is the third-largest in the country.

State wildlife board member Bandu Dhotre said, "Despite several measures like subsidized LPG distribution and solar fencing, exploitation of natural resources, grazing, collection of firewood, etc continued unabated bringing people into conflict with wildlife, both directly and indirectly."

Dhotre said, "High rates of human or wild animal population growth increases the number of encounters. Chandrapur thermal power plant area alone has nine tigers including cubs. There are tigers on overburden created by mining and in spaces where we never expected them to be. Their numbers are growing beyond the carrying capacity of protected area, causing individuals and groups to spill over into human-dominated areas and agriculture lands."

THE NUMBER GAME

Year Deaths

2017 54
2018 33
2019 39
2020 88