Shopian: Massive increase in number of stray dogs and widespread growing of horticulture products in the past 20 years in Kashmir is the major reason that leopards are routinely venturing into human habitations. In this winter almost on every day, authorities of the wildlife department have been receiving information of spotting of wild animals, particularly leopards, in rural areas.
Experts say that there has been a significant increase of dogs in the past two decades and these dogs are attracting the leopards. They said that kitchen wastes particularly of army camps are a haunt of stray dogs. “Once the dogs assemble around the kitchen waste in upper reaches where army camps are established, leopards are attracted to the dogs,” a senior wildlife expert told Kashmir Reader. He said that it has been found that dogs are much liked by leopards as food.
Since January, just the wildlife control room Shopian has rescued 30 animals this year, including those which were safely driven back to their habitations.
Intisar Suhail, Wildlife Warden, division Shopian, told Kashmir Reader that the rise of orchards in the last two decades has given more cover to wild animals. “When they find both food in shape of dogs and dense forest cover, they find it better to live around human habitations,” he said, adding that the leopard is an opportunist feeder and it adapts very well around rural areas.
He, however, said that during winters leopards live in lower areas due to heavy snowfall and absence of food, and they will go back to upper reaches in summers.
“Before 20 years, the crops grown were short seasoned and not tall, but now horticulture sector is a permanent and dense cover for wild animals to thrive in,” Suhail said.
According to official data, in the past ten years 63 leopards and their cubs have been killed during retaliation or natural causes in Kashmir. The highest number, 12, according to official data were killed in financial year 2013-14. During the same period of time, 160 black and brown bears were also killed in retaliation, natural causes or under permission.