Conflicts with wild animals are increasing as human populations grow and related anthropogenic activities encroach into wildlife habitats. A good example of this situation is the increase in conflicts between humans and sloth bears (Melursus ursinus) in India. Sloth bears are known for their aggressive and unpredictable behavior. More human fatalities and injuries have been attributed to sloth bear attacks than all recorded incidences of wildlife attacks in Buldhana Forest Division of Maharashtra, India. We interviewed 51 victims that were attacked by sloth bears between 2009-2017 to better understand the reasons for the attacks. Thirty-four of the attacks (66.7%) resulted in serious injuries, and there were 7 human mortalities (13.7%) reported. Most attacks occurred close to agricultural fields (66.7%) and during midday (1100–1400 hours). More attacks (64.7%) occurred when a person was working or resting in the field, or retrieving water for the field followed by attacks while watching over grazing livestock (13.7%). Individuals aged 31 to 40 years (35.3%) were the most common victims of sloth bear attacks. Half of the attacks were during monsoon season (July to October, 51%) followed by summer (March to June, 35%) and winter (November to February, 14%). In 39% of cases, a single bear was involved while females with 2 cubs were found to be involved in 37% of attacks. This research was incorporated into a comprehensive conflict mitigation plan, which included field staff training for monitoring sloth bear population, formulation of a Rapid Rescue Unit to manage conflict situations, and sloth bear education programs in the high conflict villages. People were made aware of the behavior and activity pattern of sloth bears and preventive measures to mitigate potential conflicts.
Singh, Nisha; Sonone, Swapnil; and Dharaiya, Nishith
"Sloth Bear Attacks on Humans in Central India: Implications for Species Conservation,"
Human–Wildlife Interactions: Vol. 12:
3, Article 5.
Available at: https://digitalcommons.usu.edu/hwi/vol12/iss3/5