Srinagar, June 6: 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.
The leopard had attacked the girl Mir Adaa at Ompora Budgam on Thursday evening and taken her away. Her mutilated body was later recovered from a nearby dense nursery.
Following the killing, authorities had declared the leopard man-eater and deputed teams to catch or kill it. The Wildlife authorities have placed traps around Ompora and placed sharp shooters at vulnerable spots to kill the leopard.
“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 Greater Kashmir.
Principal Chief Conservator of Forests, Dr Mohit Gera, who visited the spot today 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.