Human-Animal Conflict: Is controlling the population of these species a solution?

Asha Bajaj
5 min readJan 13, 2024
An infant rhesus macaque near a monument in New Delhi. A new study proposes surgical sterilisation to control Rhesus macaque population. Photo by Eatcha/Wikimedia Commons.

A recent study addresses rising negative interactions between humans and animals and proposes population control measures as long-term solutions, while emphasising the need for continued research.

In states such as Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand and Kerala, where conflicts with certain animals such as rhesus macaques and wild boars reached a tipping point, the animals have been tagged vermin and cullings are mooted. As a humane solution to the problem, the Wildlife Institute of India, after three years of research into the matter, has come up with mitigation measures including immuno-contraception for population control of species most-in-conflict. The four species studied were rhesus macaque (Macaca mulatta), nilgai (Boselaphus tragocamelus), wild pig (Sus scrofa) and elephant (Elephas maximus).

The WII researchers maintain that the current project was aimed only at establishing baseline information for possible strategies for future interventions. “The project was envisioned as a minimum 10-year project, not a one-off short-term study to be implemented on the field immediately,” said Vishnupriya Kolipakam, one of the researchers involved in the study.

Sterlisation as an alternative solution to culling

The idea was mooted with “macaque trouble” within the WII campus in Dehradun, Uttarakhand. The scientists at WII knew that the most popular solution to negative interactions with animals — of translocating the problem species, thereby moving the problem elsewhere — was unscientific. A proposal to control the population of the macaques was submitted to the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEFCC) that felt the idea could be extended to certain other species, too. According to Qamar Qureshi, a professor who led the WII project titled Population management of species involved in human wildlife conflict, the team started with understanding the population ecology of the four species, necessary for deriving a solution.

The study areas were within a five-km-radius of the Wildlife Institute of India in Dehradun and Rajaji Tiger Reserve in Uttarakhand for rhesus macaques; Pench and Panna Tiger Reserves in Madhya Pradesh for nilgai and wild pig; Hassan and Kodagu districts of

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Asha Bajaj

I write on national and international Health, Politics, Business, Education, Environment, Biodiversity, Science, First Nations, Humanitarian, gender, women