Compounding Kashmir’s post-flood troubles could be a problem not yet sufficiently highlighted, much less addressed, in the government’s, and the public’s, efforts to pull out of the chaos and disorder left behind by rushing waters. Reports from rural belts close to forests speak of markedly increased foraging by wild animals in fields and villages adding to the threats to their inhabitants.
Though the man-animal conflict is nothing new for the Valley, particularly its higher reaches, it appears to have grown in severity after the floods which have also taken a heavy toll of cattle and livestock, whose carcasses lie strewn over sizeable tracts of the countryside and attract wild animals. If the threat previously came from leopards and bears deprived of their natural habitat, villagers today complain of several other species of wild animals “hunting in large packs” among human habitations. Already, there are at least two reported incidents of attacks on villagers in Qazigund, and people in the Tangmarg area too have voiced fears about their safety. Locals feels themselves at great risk in venturing out after dusk, deeming it prudent to remain confined to their homes, and the presence of animal carcasses close to their farms and fields makes them vulnerable to attacks even in daylight hours.
It cannot be denied that the post-flood clean-up is a mammoth and testing time for authorities as well ordinary people. In Srinagar, the municipality and the police have been in action and put in commendable efforts. Equally, it cannot be denied that in addition to being a potent health hazard, large numbers of animal carcasses in rural belts serves to intensify and increase the movement of wild animals in populated areas, heighten risks for human-beings.
Experts in the wild life department need to advise the government on how best to tackle the problem, and mobilize its trained personnel, requesting the services of the police if need be, to protect human life. Removing animal carcasses and disposing them off safely is a task where a strained administrative machinery and local bodies could seek help and assistance from villagers, of course with due regard to their safety.