1658 man-animal conflict incidents occurred in Kashmir in one year

(The Dispatch)

Five-year-old Mir Adda chose a ‘Barbie dress’, wore a crown and was excitedly calling for family to cut her brother’s birthday cake, minutes before a leopard took her away from the lawn of her house in the city’s outskirts, in a tragic case underlining human-animal conflict because of rapid forest destruction.
The Mir house at Om Pura, a locality just outside the city limits in the central district of Budgam, became the centre of attention as mourners’ swarmed the residence to express their condolences to the family of Adda, who loved to call herself “Adda Rani”.
“Adda had returned from her maternal family home as it was her brother Ali’s seventh birthday. She went upstairs and took out her favourite ‘Barbie dress’ for the occasion and wore a princess crown before stepping into the garden to ask her grandfather to finish his tea as they had to cut the cake,” said her maternal uncle, Aijaj Ahmed.
A few minutes later, Adda’s heart-wrenching shrieks pierced the silent evening of June 3. What followed was an exercise in futility as her family members, joined by neighbours and forest officials, only found some blood stains and a doll that she was carrying with her.
The next day Adda’s body parts were recovered from an adjacent nursery-turned-forest, leaving a grieving family behind.
They bid a tearful adieu to her as she was laid to rest on Saturday and people reminisced about her smile and banter. Her relatives, who could not visit due to COVID-19 restrictions, took to Twitter to mourn her death.
Following this tragic incident, senior CPI (M) leader Mohammad Yousuf Tarigami said that increasing conflicts between humans and wildlife in Kashmir is worrisome.
He added that the myopic actions of killing the animals and epileptic decision of thinning the forests will be catastrophic.
Tarigami said that enormity of situation demands comprehensive human wildlife mitigation strategy.
“Increasing conflicts between humans and wildlife in Kashmir is worrisome. Enormity of situation demands comprehensive human wildlife mitigation strategy. Myopic actions of killing the animals and epileptic decision of thinning the forests will be catastrophic,” Tarigami wrote on micro-blogging site twitter.
Following the incident, many measures were taken by the administration to avert any further such unfortunate incidents in future.
The Wildlife authorities have launched a massive hunt in Central Kashmir’s Budgam district to catch or kill the leopard which has been declared man-eater after it mauled a four-year old girl on Friday.
“Our teams are scattered around 10 kilometres of the spot of incident. We will first try to capture the leopard and if all other means including tranquilization fail, the wild animal will be killed as a last resort,” Regional Wildlife Warden Kashmir, Rashid Naqash told a news paper.
Principal Chief Conservator of Forests, Dr Mohit Gera, who visited the spot has directed the wildlife authorities to tackle conflict animals from the site of its occurrence.
With melting of snow in mountains, the incidents of man-animal conflict have increased in Kashmir. In the past two months, many wild animals including bears and leopards entered several residential areas in Kashmir creating panic among inhabitants.
In the past 11 months, 1658 incidents of man-animal conflict occurred in Kashmir. “Out of these cases, 1050 were tackled by our staff by providing safe passage and corridors to bears and leopards to nearby forests,” Rashid said.
In around 300 cases since April last year, wild animals which had entered residential areas were trapped in cages and nets. Similarly 150 wild animals were tranquilized and rehabilitated in natural habitat in the same period.
“In 53 cases wild animals were killed in mob retaliation,” Rashid said.
Officials said that a leopard was captured at Khudpora, Khansahib Budgam which is about 15 Km from the site of the incident.
Wildlife officials said cultivation of fruit trees and setting up of poultry farms near forest areas attract wild animals. “Wild animals easily get attracted to easy availability of foods near forests. We appeal people living near forests and karewas to avoid such activities which attract wild animals,” the Regional Wildlife Warden said.
Meanwhile, Principal Chief Conservator of Forests, Dr Mohit Gera along with the officers of the Department of Wildlife Protection, Forest Department and Forest Protection Force visited the vulnerable areas of Wanbal, Rangreth, Ompora, Old Airport, Baghi-Mehtab and its adjoining areas. He reviewed measures to prevent man-animal conflict
The PCCF who is also Head of Forest Force (HOFF) examined the efforts being made to capture the conflict leopard and initiated measures like the establishment of permanent camp at Ompora. These camps will be set up at vulnerable spots to be jointly manned by Department of Forest, Wildlife and Forest Protection Force.
“We will be intensifying patrolling, deploy camera traps to track movement of wild animals which enter residential areas and take measures to capture them,” Rashid said.
The Department of Wildlife Protection has issued an advisory to prevent man-animal conflict.
The advisory has asked people especially children and women living near forest areas not to move alone especially during early and late hours and in case of exigency move only in groups.
Avoid going to nearby forest area in early morning or evening hours, which is the peak activity time for Leopards. Do not chase or try to go near to Leopard if sighted from a distance. Avoid using of bush growths and forested areas for nature call in the late evening or night hours, this time coincides with peak activity of Leopard,” the advisory states.
“Do not dump kitchen waste around your houses as this invites stray dogs to the spot which in turn invite leopard movement. It has been observed that whenever leopard is sighted, people make a lot of noise which can prove dangerous. As such the wild animal feels insecure and may attack.”
It states that in case any leopard is seen, Forest Department, Wildlife Protection Department, Forest Protection Force may be informed. – Courtesy The Dispatch