A total ban on hunting was imposed in the year 1984. Since then, citizens of the state and wild animals have been trying to live peacefully in their own boundaries. On many occasions, both people and wild animals cross their boundaries and attack each other. The State Government laws and provisions protect wild animals from such attacks. However, provisions for the citizens affected by wildlife-human interface are clearly insignificant.
For the loss of cow (local breed) in cow shed, the State Government provides a monetary compensation of Rs. 625.00. If the cow is killed by a wild animal in the jungle, the compensation reduces to Rs. 375. This amount is higher (Rs. 3500.00) for the loss of buffalo, cow jersey cross, ox and mule (adults) (special breed) in cow shed. However, the total compensation for the loss of any cattle due to wild animals is abysmally small as compared to the market value. Nowadays, even a local cow will cost more than Rs. 8000.00. The monetary loss can be as high as Rs. 30,000.00 when a leopard kills a buffalo. Rates of compensation were first notified in the year 1996. In 2001, rates of compensation were partially modified by the State Government.
The compensation from the State Government is less than 5 percent of the actual loss incurred by a farmer. Majority of people living in the state of Himachal Pradesh are dependent on agriculture and cattle. A farmer is highly dependent on cattle to make a living. What would happen when a cattle is killed by a leopard or some other wild animal? A farmerâ€™s financial condition is derailed for many years to come. An average farmer in the state earns about 10-30k per year. Sudden death of a cow, ox or buffalo implies a series of financial troubles.
It is now important that the State Government and especially top officials at the H.P. Forest Department make an effort in this regard. They should know how it feels to find a major income source dead in the shed. They should know that rates of compensation should be revised at least once in five years. Villagers can very well deal with wild animals on their own if the State Government permitted them to do so. Since that is not going to happen, the Government of Himachal Pradesh and the H.P. Forest Department should try to create a balance. Rates of compensation should reflect the actual loss incurred by farmers in the state.