Envis Centre, Ministry of Environment & Forest, Govt. of India

Printed Date: Sunday, March 3, 2024

Habitat loss reason for bison attacks: Authorities











Keri: The bison or gaur, the state animal of Goa, is increasingly making it to news with reports of aggressive or destructive actions filtering in from different parts of the state, a phenomenon that environmental researchers are crediting to the competition between man and wild animals for food and water in fringe areas and habitat fragmentation.



A herbivorous, the bison is the largest extant bovine in India, found mostly on plateaus due to availability of seasonal grasses, bushes, roots and shoots. However, today, these grasslands are being developed as they are viewed as wastelands.



Retired deputy conservator of forests V T Thomas told TOI: "During my tenure, I never came across such incidents. Since its natural habitat has been disturbed and degraded, the behavioural pattern of this wild animal has undergone a change."



In one such incident, on March 29, Yenu Soliyekar of Shivade, Dharbandora was left fatally injured. Sub-divisional forest officer, Ponda, Pradip Shet Verenkar and deputy conservator of forests, North Goa, Kuldip Sharma, who visited the site told TOI: "Soliyekar's body was found was just 1.5km from the Bondla Wildlife Sanctuary. Wild animals have been visiting areas where there are horticultural plantations in search of food and water."



More recently, on April 2, residents of Mayem, Bicholim, informed the Keri RFO Geerish Bailudkar about a bison attacking three persons riding a scooter, near Mayem lake.



Villagers of Sattari and Bicholim areas have repeatedly complained that bisons also damaging their banana plantations and paddy fields.



Wildlifer Nitin Sawant, who has studied the man-bison conflict in various parts of Goa says: "Presently, climate change has been affecting the natural habitat of the bison. In Canacona, Sanguem and Dharbandora areas, I have seen that water holes are drying up. Our efforts towards the improvement and management of the natural habitat of these wild animals is meagre. The problem will not be solved unless taken up, on priority basis, and that too following proper, scientific methodology."



Man-animal conflict is not new. What is new is the increased frequency of such encounters. Everybody knows this is because of increased competition for natural resources, and that man's need and greed has placed increased pressure on these resources and the ecosystem. But, what is less known is that there are detailed studies on the issue, with equally in-depth solutions on offer. What is needed is government will to implement these suggestions. The solution does not lie in declaring wild animals vermin and, subsequently, killing them.