SHOPIAN: Some 350 instances of man-animal conflict have been reported this year (March 2018- March 2019) from southern Kashmir’s Shopian wildlife division this year, which includes Pulwama district as well. Two deaths and 20 injuries have been reported during the same period.
At least 17 leopards have been captured by wildlife officials from human habitations since Jan 2019.
Officials and experts attribute the increase in conflicts to destruction of forest habitats, human interference and heavy snowfall forcing animals to forage into human habitations.
“On Wednesday, we captured a leopard cub in Chowgam area after locals reported about its presence,” Gulzar Ahmad, a wildlife official said.
The field teams, he added, have spent nights capturing animals sighted near villages to avoid their confrontation with humans.
Officials said that prior to Wednesday, 17 leopards were caught by the department from human habitations and released in Dachigam and other wildlife sanctuaries in the valley.
“This year 350 cases of man verses wild were reported in our division, including 20 injuries and two casualties (deaths),” another official said.
Gulzar said that heavy snowfall in upper reaches was among the reasons responsible for the large number of cases reported this year, as the snowfall forces animals to go out in search of food and shelter.
Abid Saki, an environmental expert, said that the large scale damages to forests was the main reason for man-wild conflicts. “See, in summers the animals used to live in upper areas of sanctuaries and forests and in winters there used to be heavy snow and during snow the animals come to low range areas but most of those areas have been damaged by people and government and at the end it forces animals to roam in human habitations and the man verses wild conflicts rise,” he said.