Ever intensifying human animal conflict

Ever intensifying human animal conflict
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As bear and leopard attacks continue, rising dog populations take its toll – 6264 dog bite cases in 2015-16

SRINAGAR: Encroachment on the fringes of forestland, change in crop pattern and lack of experts to relocate dangerous animals has increased man-animal conflict over the years in J&K, particularly in the valley.
Attacks by dogs have seen a steep rise over the past few years while leopard and bear attacks continue along the peripheries of forests.
For the last three weeks, wildlife officials have been trying to seize a man-eater leopard after it mauled a six-year-old boy to death and retreated into nearby woods of South Kashmir’s Banderpora area in Pulwama district. However, apart from a couple of close shaves with the beast, nothing much has been achieved.
“We have activated six control rooms which are open round the clock for assistance. Six cages have been set at different locations. The locals sighted it twice but before we could reach the spot, it fled,” said Bilal Ahmad Reshi, in-charge control room Tral.
In Rohmoo Pulwama, a Leopard along with two cubs mauled a school teacher on Wednesday. A villager, Muhammad Yousuf Mir, was attacked by the leopards at Tulkhan Naad in Balwardar orchards at Rahmoo. The teacher, who was on way to his school, received grievous shoulder and leg injuries. He was shifted to District Hospital Pulwama for treatment.
The situation is even more dreadful when it comes to street dogs. As per the data available with the Social and Preventive Medicine Department of the Government Medical College (GMC), 4917 persons came to the hospital for treatment for dog bites during the year 2014-2015. The number of such patients in 2015-2016 grew to 6264.
Dr Shazada Mohammad Saleem, HoD Social and preventive Medicine said that for last five years, there has been a continuous increase in deaths due to human-animal conflict. “Animal attacks are more frequent in our state as their (dog) population is increasing with each passing day. Every hospital in the state receives patients who are either mauled by dogs”.
Highlighting the rapid rise in conflict between humans and animals, Imtiyaz Ahmad Lone, Wildlife Warden Srinagar, said that the destruction of habitat compels wild animals to enter human settlements in search of food and water. “Shrinking of space and food in the forests causes the animals to stray out of their habitats. Encroachments of forest land especially on the fringes have diminished the bounders,” he said.
He added that the change in the crop pattern has also increased the conflict. “Bear, for examples, like barley, and when farmers sow it before their hibernation, they invite trouble,” he said.
The officer said that there was a dearth of experts in the department as the government has not filled the vacant posts for years. “In the year 1991, we had 171 employees in one division and now we have 69 in the same division,” he said.

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