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HSI urges centre to develop protocol for human wildlife conflict reporting

Hyderabad, Nov 15 (UNI) Humane Society International (HSI) (India) today urged the Central Government
to develop a protocol for news reporting of human-wildlife conlict across the country.
In a letter addressed to the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, HSI said vilifying wild animals in
episodes of human-wildlife conflict in India can lead to widespread outrage against the entire species
in form of retaliatory killings.
Many recent news reports on human-wildlife conflict misinform the public about the underlying causes
of those conflicts and these reports typically position humans as victims while ignoring the plight of the animals involved. They don’t tell the complete story of the complexity of the issue, the letter said.
For instance, that loss of habitat and competition for waning resources has led to increased incidences of encounters between wild animals and human populations or that human-wildlife conflict mitigation tools exist, in the form of special fencing, trained wildlife officers and public education on what to do when encountering a wild animal.
At worst, news reports can incite violence against wild animals, including stoning and burning.
On electronic media, videos of animals in conflict often have jarring, violent music in the background
with visual effects to portray the animal as a villain when in reality the animal is reacting in panic to
being surrounded by an unruly mob, the HSI said in its letter.
A survey conducted by Wildlife Conservation Society( WCS-India) found that people associated elephants with “menace”, leopards and tigers with “attack” and bears with “mauling.”
Such perception, especially combined with lack of effective wildlife management strategies at a
state and central level, can prove detrimental to the cause of wildlife conservation and peaceful co-existence between humans and wildlife.
HSI Managing Director N.G Jayasimha, said “It is incredible how the media plays up every incident of conflict, without paying heed to the bigger impact it is making on the wildlife and the people who are living in those areas. Indian news media typically present animals as a threat and use provocative headlines to increase eyeballs and ratings.
It is unfortunate that the channels do not understand the repercussions of their stories and how they harm wildlife.
The Ministry needs to develop guidelines for the news media to follow so that there is ethical reporting before more damage is done, it added.
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