Man Animal Conflict: Why Govt Should Find Permanent Solution

3 mins read

Mir Mudasir

The family members were in the compound at Ompora village in Central Kashmir’s Budgam District- located on a plateau adjacent to the swathes of trees and dense foliage that form the part of the city forests, while elders were chatting a young boy, 6, and girl 4, were busy in playing under their watchful eyes.

As the dusk was close to setting, elder family members entered inside with a notion that the two children were playing under their gaze will follow them. Around 7:40 pm when they heard a cry outside and within seconds the family rushed out, they couldn’t find 4 year old Ada Mir. Ada’s brother and other members were in a state of shock, they called neighbours unable to understand what had transpired with the little doll, loved by everyone in the neighbourhood.

It was around 8 pm, when family members, neighbours and officials of wildlife and police began a search operation in the nearby city forests. Though the family was not sure what happened with their doll, however, they all had fears that Ada could have been attacked by a leopard, though no one had thought that beast could have devoured the child.

After an hour the apprehensions came true when the search teams found slippers and a small necklace in the bushes and next day some body parts of the girl were recovered.

The next day the operation began to track down wild beasts and instructions were passed by the government for the thinning of dense forests and the wildlife department released ifs and buts.

Grandfather of the girl, Ghulam Hassan Mir said that they had been seeking redressal of the problem many times but no action was taken by the administration. “This girl was dear to us and for us this pain will never go throughout our lives. Please try to redress this issue for the sake of the future of children. The girl was the apple of our eyes and this will remain our biggest regret and tragedy,” he said.

Chief Wildlife warden, Suresh Kumar said they have set up the Control Room in Budgam and also put trapping cages in the area. “One leopard was rescued from the area a few months back. Two more were caught.”

Locals, however, blame the wildlife department for the negligence, though the government has already suspended the range officer of the area.

Former minister and legislator Ruhullah Medhi termed the incident a case of “criminal negligence”. “Given the fact that incidents involving the same wild animals occurred multiple times in the recent months in areas as close to DC’s office, people then were lucky, but this time this innocent little soul had to pay with her life,” he said.

Budgam Deputy Commissioner Shabaz Mirza after the incident chaired a high level meeting with senior officials of police and forest department to decide on measures to prevent such incidents in the future, including immediate removal of fallen material trees from snow and bushes and other cultural operations (removal of bushes) in Ompora forests and other areas.

A spokesperson for the Jammu and Kashmir administration assured action within two days. “DFO (Divisional Forest Officer) Budgam will immediately take steps for erection and strengthening of existing chain-link fencing at Ompora forests and will also submit DPR (detailed project report) to higher authorities for sanction of funds. He will also process the proposal/ case for sanction of thinning of the forest immediately. Wild life Warden Budgam will deploy staff well equipped with machinery for elimination of the Wild Animal (Leopard) which has turned man-eater after obtaining sanction from the competent authority,” said the spokesperson, adding that the family of the deceased girl will soon be compensated. The wildlife department staff will be deputed in the periphery of the Ompora forests for patrolling and awareness among the general public, the spokesperson said.

However the last two decades have seen substantial increase in man animal conflict. After Ada’s killing by leopard, there were two more incidents in the Valley when young children were targeted by wild animals especially leopards.

Wildlife Warden Officials are of the opinion that in present circumstances man animal conflict can be minimized and not stopped.

The data of last decade show that 196 people were killed and 2,325 were injured since 2011 in Jammu and Kashmir. Out of which Kashmir accounted for 118 deaths and 1877 injuries while the Jammu region reported 78 deaths and 448 injuries. There has been continuous felling of forests in J&K in the past one decade which has led to losing of habitat to the wild animals so they come into human habitation looking for prey.

The government is now planning to plant fruit trees in the forests for herbivores animals across J&K which will then hold carnivorous animals to get the prey in the forests so they won’t come to human habitation looking for prey especially dogs and other stuff.

Many experts say the growing number of attacks on humans is result of man animal conflict. “There have been many incidents like this in the past, this shows us the incidents of man animal conflict are growing and there are many reasons for that especially the shrinking of forest area and natural habitat for wild animals,” said environmental film maker Jalal Jeelani.

He said that the government and NGO’s need fruit trees & berries bushes in the forest for wild animals as well. “So they don’t need to come down to human habitations in search of food. Also we need to keep poultry farming, away from forest cover areas which becomes an attraction for carnivore animals like Leopards.”

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