Wildlife dept says not enough manpower to curb attacks
Baramulla: People in several villages of northern Kashmir districts, including Baramulla and Kupwara, are scared to step out of their homes after leopards seen roaming in populated areas.
An official said that seven children have been killed and several others sustained injuries this year after being mauled by leopards in northern Kashmir, including in Uri, Boniyar and Handwara.
The official said that there have been a number of incidents of leopard attacks on livestock also.
In response to the attacks, he said, two man-eating leopards have been gunned down in Uri area. The two leopards were preying on young children and were shot to death by hunters deployed by the forest department in Uri, he said.
Hours after one man-eating leopard was gunned down in Uri town last evening, another challenge for the forest department in Handwara emerged after a leopard mauled to death a minor boy in the courtyard of his house.
The official said that several teams have been constituted to track down the “man-eater” leopard in Rajwar area of Handwara, said to be responsible for the killing of a child last evening.
Despite a series of attacks by leopards in these areas, people are outraged that forest officials are not doing enough. People alleged that the forest department has deputed only one hunter to kill the leopard in Handwara.
“If we take our cattle, goats and sheep to pastures for grazing, leopards are attacking them. Farmers are worried that leopards are attacking and killing cattle in the vicinity of their homes at night. They also retaliate against humans if they try to drive away a leopard which has come to attack the cattle,” Abdul Aziz, a local, said.
“Fear-stricken people are not even able to go to their lands to carry out agricultural work,” Mohammad Nawaz, a resident of Baramulla district, said, adding that a few days ago at least five sheep were killed in a leopard attack in his village.
Wildlife Warden North Kashmir, Mohammad Maqbool Baba said that since June this year, seven leopard attacks have been reported, including five in Uri and two in Rajwar area of Handwara.
Asked about why such incidents are not being curbed, he said that the department lacks manpower. “We have a vast area but we don’t have enough employees who could be deployed for such attack-prone areas”, Baba said.