Recognizing that payment of compensation is an important tool in reducing violence against wildlife, most states in India have some mechanisms to compensate persons for human-wildlife conflicts. In fact, among all the states in India, Karnataka stands out as the state that has paid the highest amount of compensation for human-wildlife conflicts. As per a study conducted by the Centre for Wildlife Studies, between 2012–13, 36,000 incidents of human-wildlife conflict were recorded in Karnataka alone, with the state disbursing over Rs 13 crore as compensation. While it is commendable that Karnataka has been at the forefront of ensuring greater harmony between humans and wildlife, there is definitely scope for change and improvement in its current compensation disbursal mechanism.
Currently, Karnataka lacks a comprehensive human-wildlife conflict compensation legislation. The current Karnataka policy has thus far been in operation through the promulgation of various Government Orders. Consequently, multiple such orders spanning decades need to be referred to in order to get a complete understanding of Karnataka’s compensation policy. Government Orders do not have the same force of standing as laws passed by legislature, and are therefore more amenable to changes depending upon the priorities of changing governments in the state.
In the current system of compensation in Karnataka, there are multiple gaps that lead to ad hoc-ism, and therefore ambiguity in processes and payments. This current Report suggests ways to bridge these gaps through a comprehensive Human Wildlife Conflict Compensation Law.