In A First, Kerala Now Has A State-Specific Disaster; Know What Changed About Man-Animal Conflict

Kerala, a state in southern India, has recently declared man-animal conflict as a state-specific disaster, becoming the first state in the country to do so. This decision is significant as it changes the way the government is addressing the issue of managing man-animal conflicts.

Currently, the responsibility of managing man-animal conflict rests with the forest department, which acts as per the Wild Life Protection Act. However, once the issue is declared a state-specific disaster, the responsibility to deal with it shifts to the state disaster management authority. This authority, powered by the Disaster Management Act, can take quicker and more decisive action in managing the conflict.

The disaster management authority is headed by the Chief Minister at the state level, and several departments including the forest department are stakeholders. At the district level, the district collector is the head of the district disaster management authority, who is also the executive magistrate.

By declaring man-animal conflicts as a state-specific disaster, the disaster management authority can make quick decisions and actions overriding all other norms. The district collectors can also directly intervene in their capacity as the chairman of the district disaster body.

The change was prompted by the increasing number of deaths caused by animal attacks and rising anger over them. Every time a life is lost to man-animal conflict, there has been a mounting chorus to tranquillize/capture/kill the animals responsible.


Currently, the chief wildlife warden is the only authority who can take a call on a wild animal wreaking havoc in human settlements. However, this decision can be questioned in court, as there have been past cases where the decision to tranquillize a killer animal, such as a wild elephant, has been challenged.

Once the issue is under the disaster management authority, it can take actions overriding other norms, including those under the Wildlife Protection Act. This means that during the specific period that a disaster has been declared, no court (except the Supreme Court or a High Court) shall have jurisdiction to entertain any suit or proceeding in respect of anything done by relevant authorities.

Other state-specific disasters that have been declared in the past include snakebites in Odisha in 2015, COVID-19 in Kerala in 2020, heat waves, sunburn, sunstroke in 2019, soil piping in 2017, and lightning and coastal erosion in 2015.