Well! Almighty created all the things with a definite purpose, maintaining an intricate balance, scientifically known as ecological balance. But owing to human intervention this balance has been severely disrupted. The wild animals, armed with lethal weapons, being the top carnivores formed the climax of the food chain and they helped to keep in check the numbers of herbivorous and other small animals, which prevented the excessive grazing and destruction of forests. But now the situation is completely different, in fact, there are very few grazing lands even for domestic animals and the wild herbivores if any are only restricted to wildlife sanctuaries and national parks, thanks to the rampant urbanization. Thus the feeding options of these wonderful yet poor predators are scanty.
We are in the midst of winter season and it is the vulnerable period for man-animal conflicts, because owing to heavy snowfall the predatory bears and leopards descent downwards in search of food. In the past, wild animals, particularly leopards and bears, have taken a heavy toll on human lives in our valley, mainly children who are their soft targets. They have also killed hundreds and injured thousands of domestic animals. Often people take law into their own hands and kill or severely harm these predators and in the process invite trouble for themselves as well.
Human beings are not the natural prey of these wild animals and they usually avoid them, but they can turn into deadly man-eaters owing to various reasons. A good example is the Leopard of Rudraprayag in the state of Uttarakhand. The single leopard created havoc among the villagers killing 125 people. Eventually the British requested the aid of Corbett in the autumn of 1925 who hunted it. A fair is held annually at Rudraprayag commemorating the killing of the leopard and people there often consider Jim Corbett a Sadhu and their savior. Corbett's notes revealed that this leopard, an elderly male, was suffering from serious gum recession and tooth loss and could not hunt, thus attacked humans, who were much easier to hunt than wild game. There was also an epidemic in the area and the leopard had consumed the flesh of humans and had developed a taste for it.
While it is being said that wild animals are intruding into our territories, actually the situation is completely different. It is we who are intruding into their territory. If we take the example of Srinagar, over the years owing to the growing population people have moved horizontally towards the outskirts, because there is no concept of flat system in our valley. A large number of residential colonies have come up at Dara Harwan, Mazargund, Zakoora, Gujar Fakir, Shuhama and around the Dachigam National Park. Moreover, the conversion of prime habitats of wild animals into crop lands, orchards and commercial establishments is also a reason for increasing human-wild animal conflict.
Keeping in view the various inherent constraints and the statistics, wild animals can be safe only within the confines of large protected areas with proper fencing and managerial interventions like the provision of food in harsh climatic conditions, particularly in heavy snowfall. This will also ensure avoidance of man-animal contacts. People also need to be educated regarding the importance of wildlife. They must also be made well versed with the behavior of these animals which could add to their safety and remove the superstitions beliefs. Present laws pertaining to it must be strengthened and implemented in letter and spirit.