Victims of wildlife-human conflict need better compensation

New Delhi, Feb 24 (PTI):
The lives of people lost due to wildlife-human conflicts are not adequately compensated in India, according to a new study which says changing the approach to this estimate can improve conservation efforts, and help understand which species to prioritise at conflict-prone zones.
The research, published in the journal PNAS, surveyed 5,196 households living near 11 wildlife reserves in India, and self-reported annual costs including crop and livestock losses, injuries, and human deaths.
“Human casualties contribute overwhelmingly to overall damages from wildlife interactions. This is despite the use of a relatively low valuation of human life from the literature,” study lead author, Sumeet Gulati from the Centre for Wildlife Studies in Bengaluru, told PTI. The researchers said compensation for human death ranges from Rs 76,400 in Haryana, to Rs 8,73,995 in Maharashtra.
They said the average compensation paid for human death in the country is Rs 1,91,437, and the average compensation paid for injury is Rs 6,185. According to Gulati, these compensation values, known as value of a statistical life (VSL) are typically calculated from labour market comparisons.
“Controlling for how productive workers are across different industries, economists estimate how much of the compensation paid can be attributed to the risk of injury or death across occupations,” he explained.
According to the researchers, better compensation for human fatalities can likely reduce animosity towards the species conservationists intend to preserve.
“More importantly, if governments invested in measures to reduce conflict based on an accurate understanding of the real value of the loss of human life, conflict would be reduced, and animosity would fall, making both those living near the forest and those who care about the beings in the forest better off,” Gulati explained.

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