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Forest and Wildlife Scenarios of Northern West Bengal, India: A Review

Author Affiliations

  • 1Department of Environmental Studies, Institute of Science, Visva-Bharati, Santiniketan, 731235, Birbhum, West Bengal, INDIA

Int. Res. J. Biological Sci., Volume 2, Issue (7), Pages 70-79, July,10 (2013)

Abstract

Study on forest, wildlife and their interaction with humans has become critical area of research in recent decades. New insights in recent years present some serious dimensions in interactions between them which include issues like depletion of forested areas, loss of habitat of wildlife, human-wildlife conflicts (HWC) etc. National Forest Policy of India states 33% of its total geographical area should be under forest cover, which under current scenario stands well short at 23.38%. West Bengal, situated on the eastern side of India, lags far behind of the national forest area and only 13.38% of its total geographical area comes under recorded forest category. Although there are reports about the conditions of forest, wildlife habitats and HWC in West Bengal, these are haphazardly arranged. This paper attempts to arrange these reports in a review form to make them more accessible and easily readable. Since, most of the reports of HWC occur from northern West Bengal, this part of the state has been made subject of this review article. Current status of forest and wildlife, emphasising on gaur, leopard and elephant, in three northern districts of West Bengal namely Jalpaiguri, Darjeeling and Cooch Behar has been reviewed along with assessing some recent reports on HWC in the region. Some of the methods employed along with recommendations and suggestions to minimise HWC have also been reviewed. The study shows that, although situation of forest area looks disappointing there is an increase in the number of gaur, leopard and elephant in recent years. Increase in population of wild animals, depletion of green cover, encroachment of forest land, decline in fodder for wild herbivores and developmental activities in protected areas emerged to be the principal causes of HWC in the region. The study further shows that since all HWC are reactions to the actions of human beings, these conflicts can effectively be brought down if proper measures are implemented.

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