An animal protection body has asked the information and broadcasting ministry to develop a protocol for the media on reporting human-wildlife conflicts.
Humane Society International - India said in a letter to the ministry that media reports on wildlife conflicts often vilify imperilled species and obscure the complexity of the issue.
"We request you to call for a meeting of all stakeholders to develop a protocol for reporting of human-wildlife conflict for both print and electronic media that should be mandated across all news agencies and media houses," the letter said.
It said the tone of reporting often suggests that wild animals are out to search and attack people, leading to mass hysteria when any animal is spotted in human-dominated landscape.
According to HSI-India, on electronic media, brief video clips of animals in conflict are often played with jarring, violent music in the background with visual effects to match which portray the animal as a villain.
In reality, the animal is just reacting in panic to being surrounded by an unruly mob, it said.
"While the news of such instances of conflict is designed to evoke sympathy for the victim, it often criminalises the animal in question thus leading to widespread outrage not just against the animal in question, but often against the entire species which could lead to retaliatory killing of several animals of the species," the letter said.
Evidence-based and fact-based depiction and reporting of conflict will lead to better understanding of the animal and promote community based conservation efforts, leading to a tolerant society, the animal protection group said.
HSI-India Managing Director N.G Jayasimha said it is "incredible" how the media plays up every incident of conflict.
"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," Jayasimha said.
HSI-India has also reached out to the West Bengal government to create a protocol on crowd-control in areas affected by human-wildlife conflict.
(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)