July 30, 2010
A little snippet of my research
The Wildlife Institute of India conducts ongoing research with nearly every aspect concerning wildlife in India. The particular department that I am working with, under the direction of Dr. Ruchi Badola, deals primarily with the conflicts that exist between people and wildlife. Living at the institute, I can say that we experience conflict with wildlife everyday. Monkeys constantly infiltrating our halls, turn over our trashcans in search of food, and even enter our rooms (I have learned to keep my door bolted because of this problem). But all of these are very minor issues compared to what the people living around the Nanda Devi Biosphere experience.
For the project I have chose to complete I was sent to survey two to three villages to understand the impact that primates have on the humans and vice versa. We (two fellow Wildlife Institute students and I) picked three villages to survey in the course of two days. In the end, we were able to obtain a total of 54 interviews. The questions we asked concerned things such as people’s attitudes towards the monkeys, how much and what kind of damage is done to their crops and orchards, whether they were ever physically attacked by a monkey and whether they feared an attack, as well as whether they were aware of any diseases that monkeys may carry. Many people at first found it interesting and even funny that we were only interested in knowing the problems they have with monkeys because generally the biggest problems they face are not from monkeys, but rather from bears, wild boars, and porcupines. Regardless, we found from these interviews that monkeys are in fact pests (94% of the respondents thought so).
There were several aspects of the interviews that I expected. For one, monkeys are a major issue for these people. They subsist primarily off of the crops and orchards that they themselves grow and when there is a common pest (such as monkeys) who constantly destroy they crops this results in major losses. People reported their losses in crops and orchards due to monkeys to be anywhere from 10% to an astounding 100%. Second, the people do not receive any compensation for these losses. The government compensates for damage due to leopards, bears and wild boars, but not for monkeys. As expected, we heard endless stories from the people we interviewed about how they filed complaints in regards to these losses but received nothing. One woman even reported to us that she was advised by the forestry department to kill the monkeys if they were causing such a tremendous problem. Finally, there was little aggression experienced from the monkeys. This is expected because these surveys were conducted in a rural area, and not in a city where the monkeys are reported to be highly aggressive and often attack people.
While many things were expected in the course of our interviews, there were a few surprises. I found it alarming that only two out of the 54 respondents were aware that monkeys carry diseases. Even though most people responded that they had never heard of any one being bitten, I believe this is something that should be highlighted to these people in the future.
Posted by ksenijas at July 30, 2010 02:11 PM