In Africa and parts of Latin America wild animals attack on humans are often attributed to witchcraft and black magic practices.
In several Indian states belief on witchcraft is rife, and a large number of cases of human/animal conflicts are regularly reported. But are animal attacks ever blamed for witchcraft or black magic and other superstitions in South Asia?
It might seem an odd question but in Africa and parts of the Latin America, rich in forests and wildlife resources, witchcraft and black magic and related superstitions and beliefs are found to be associated with human-animal conflict.
However, similar cases are not observed in South Asia particularly in the remote rural tribal areas, forest belts and remote heavily forested border areas.
There may be some odd cases reported, but generally this is not as common as observed in some African or Latin American countries.
Instead several religious faiths among different communities across this vast region are socially as well as culturally associated with direct or indirect conservation of wildlife and forests.
The crux of human-animal conflict in South Asia is fragmentation of habitats as well as illegal encroachments into forested belts bringing wildlife into direct conflict with local inhabitants.
Furthermore, wildlife trafficking, trade and poaching are promoted in belts where there is less economic and infrastructural developments, or there are problems of local insurgency.
Often, not including local populations as stakeholders in conservation efforts in South Asia have been failing despite promising conservation initiatives. Also there is lack of education and awareness regarding conservation as well as human-animal conflict.
This calls for the need to conserve wildlife across South Asia, as it is an important part of the social and cultural life of many communities and religions and/or socio-cultural faiths and beliefs.
Concepts of sacred animals and grooves can be well utilized for conservation of many fragile ecosystems of South Asia.
Saikat Kumar Basu, Canada
While Nepal is all set to mark the National Science Day next month, the world’s renowned scientists including the Apollo 11 astronaut Edwin “Buzz” Aldrin and the Nobel Laureate Dan Shechtman will be visiting Kathmandu to share their experiences with Nepali enthusiasts and scientists.
Due to the warming the Earth glaciers are disappearing in the Himalayas, and the glacier fed Melemchi River might not be a very reliable source to meet the drinking water needs of the growing demands of our capital city.
Since we have lots of rain in Kathmandu Valley, I would suggest the organizers of the Science Day to benefit from the visiting scientists to get their opinion about the possibility of conserving rain-water in the Kathmandu Valley to meet the needs of the ever growing population.
R. Manandhar, Kathmandu