Srinagar: While the Department of Wildlife Protection has been trying to reduce the human-animal conflict, 230 people lost their lives and over 2800 were injured in the man-animal conflict across J&K since 2006.
Official data available with Greater Kashmir reveals that 230 persons were killed and 2860 injured in human-animal conflict during the last 15 years.
In 2006-07, at least 18 people were killed and 134 injured. In 2007-08, 15 people were killed while 141 injured. In 2008-09, 22 people were killed and 193 injured. In 2009-10, 20 human deaths and 232 injuries were reported. In 2010-11, 24 deaths and 306 injuries were reported. In 2011-12, 28 human deaths and 315 injuries were reported. In 2012-13, 11 human lives were lost and 259 were injured. In 2013-14, 28 human deaths were reported and 333 were injured. In 2014-15, 11 people were killed and 189 were injured. In 2015-16, 10 people were killed and 225 injured. In 2016-17, seven persons were killed and 127 injured. In 2017-18, eight persons were killed and 120 injured. In 2018-19, six persons were killed and 183 injured. In 2019-20, 11 human deaths were reported and 85 were injured. In 2020-21, five persons were killed while 87 injured. In 2021-22, so far six persons have been killed and 31 injured.
Wild animals attacking humans and vice versa have seen a spike in J&K.
Appearance of wild animals, particularly wild bears and leopards have been regular now not only in the forests but neo-colonies which have come up in both urban and rural areas. There have been frequent instances in the last few years when leopards and bears have sneaked into residential areas, creating panic and a sense of fear among the people. Wild cats have picked up pets, poultry, sheep and goats and bears gorged on fruit and beehives with ease. The last few months witnessed dozens of cases when animals have come in contact with humans, inflicting severe injuries on each other.
In a heart-wrenching incident, a four-year-old girl was killed by a leopard in Budgam district in June this year. In another such incident, a minor girl was attacked and killed by a leopard in Ganderbal district in August.
Wildlife officials said cultivation of fruit trees and setting up of poultry farms near forest areas attracts wild animals.
“Wild animals get attracted to the easy availability of food near forests. We appeal to people living near forests and karewas to avoid such activities which attract wild animals,” Regional Wildlife Warden Rashid Naqash told Greater Kashmir.
He said that the number of bears and leopards had grown significantly in the last few years.
“As there is ample and safe space for them to breed, their population has multiplied largely. It is an unnatural growth,” he said.
He said bad trash management and unchecked dog population — considered favourite food for wild cats - was linked to increasing leopard attacks in cities and towns. Moreover, significant poultry and sheep rearing units near households too lure the wild animals.
Naqash said that nine leopards had been captured in district Budgam after 4 June 2021 when a minor girl was killed at Ompora, Budgam.
He said in other parts of J&K, many leopards have been captured after being tranquilised by the field staff of the Wildlife department.
Naqash urged the people to cooperate with the department.
A number of bears or leopards were attacked by the human population in different areas, resulting in their death.
Recently, a black bear and a leopard cub were found dead on a roadside in Ganderbal and Srinagar, and were believed to have been killed after being hit by some vehicle during the night.
Meanwhile, amid the rising number of incidents of human-animal conflict, the Department of Wildlife Protection has issued an advisory for the people to avoid such human-animal conflict besides sharing their numbers in case of any sighting of wild animals. The advisory issued by the Regional Wildlife Warden Kashmir said that people should not move alone, especially during the early and late hours.
Children and women should be more careful and move in groups.
“People should avoid going to the nearby forest area in early mornings and evening hours which is the peak time for the movement of leopards,” the advisory said.
It also cautioned the people not to chase or try to go near the leopard if sighted from a distance.
“It has been observed that whenever a leopard is sighted, people make a lot of noise which can prove dangerous. This way, the wild animal feels insecure and may attack,” the advisory reads.
It said that the cattle sheds in the houses should be constructed strong enough, using wooden material or concrete.
“Livestock, poultry and pets should be attended by three to four persons. Any type of bell or sound-producing device should be put around the neck of the cattle. They should also be kept in safe sheds before the onset of dusk,” the advisory said.
It said that people should avoid allowing bush growth or going to forest areas for attending nature’s call in late evening and night hours.
“This time coincides with peak activity of the leopard. Provide sufficient light around your utilities and outside your home,” the advisory said.
It said that in case a leopard is seen, people should immediately inform the Forest department, Wildlife Protection Department and Forest Protection Force as per the given number which the Wildlife Protection Department has already issued.