The Corbett Tiger Reserve (CTR) with its surrounding forest divisions in Uttarakhand, India, acts as a significant tiger conservation landscape within the Terai Arc Landscape.
One of the major causes of conflict in CTR is depredation of livestock by Bengal Tiger Panthera tigris tigris and Common Leopard Panthera pardus fusca, and crop damage by wild herbivores such as the Spotted Deer Axis axis, Sambar Rusa unicolor, Wild Boar Sus scrofa, Nilgai Boselaphus tragocamelus and Asian Elephant Elephas maximus. This creates resentment among the affected people against both, wildlife and the Forest Department.
Though the government has a policy of compensation in place, the low rates of compensation and the long procedural delays in disbursement of the compensation amount, often dissuade the locals from claiming. Simmering resentment among local populations in such circumstances has often resulted in retaliatory measures like poisoning carcasses to kill the carnivore responsible for livestock depredation.
With the objective of alleviating this situation, The Corbett Foundation (TCF), a conservation NGO working in India, launched the Cattle Compensation Scheme in 1995 to give interim and on-the-spot financial assistance to villagers, whose cattle have been killed by a tiger or a leopard in the buffer zone of CTR. WWF-India has been a partner of this compensation scheme since 1997. The Cattle Compensation Scheme was eventually renamed as the Interim Relief Scheme. Information about this scheme has spread to all the villages around CTR and reporting of cattle kills has reached nearly 100%. TCF has a dedicated team in place that promptly responds to livestock depredation incidents by providing immediate effective monitory assistance and medical treatment to the injured livestock. This scheme has been largely instrumental in reducing the antagonism of locals and also helps in building trust among the local community members.
Ever since this scheme has been in place, the revenge killings of tigers and leopards in the area have drastically dropped, making this one of the most successful tiger conservation programmes implemented by any NGO in India.
Due to the success of this programme, this scheme was expanded to Kanha Tiger Reserve (KTR), situated among the Satpuda mountain ranges of central India in 2016.
The governments of Uttarakhand and Madhya Pradesh have policies to compensate the loss of cattle by tigers and leopards to the villagers living in the buffer zones of Corbett Tiger Reserve and Kanha Tiger Reserve, respectively. However, the procedures for claiming this compensation is cumbersome with delays to provide compensation. Both these tiger reserves and their adjacent forest divisions include more than 450 villages with a large human and livestock population. Livestock are preferred over wild herbivores by tigers and leopards, perhaps due to the ease of hunting or due to difficulty in availability of wild prey during particular season.
When a tiger or leopard kills/injures livestock, the owner needs to report the conflict within 24 hrs of the incident by phone or through personal contact to the nearest The Corbett Foundation (TCF) office. On receipt of the information, the TCF team inspects the site of the incidence to verify whether the animal has indeed been killed or injured by a tiger or a leopard. Thereafter, the inspection team takes a picture of the livestock carcass and the owner holding a board with his name, the village names and the date of the inspection. The inspection teams also...
• Examine the pugmarks and claw marks around the kill, and feeding habits to determine the predator – tiger or leopard
• Evaluate the percentage of the carcass consumed by the carnivores
• Examine drag marks and the length of drag marks
• Take the GPS location of the kill
In addition to compensation, TCF also provides veterinary assistance to the villagers whose livestock have been injured by tiger or leopard.
Since the inception of this compensation scheme in 1995, over USD 238,000 have been provided as interim relief to around 16,000 cattle depredation cases.
CONDITIONS OF SUCCESS
1. Timely reporting of cattle kills
2. Timely (within 24-hours) inspection of kills to verify the authenticity
3. Interim compensation provided within 7 days of kill inspection in beneficiary bank account
4. Government relies on the documentation done by The Corbett Foundation to provide full compensation to the villagers
5. Uninterrupted continuity of the programme