Wild animal attacks spark fear in North Kashmir’s twin districts

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The surge in wild animal attacks has caused fear among the residents of twin districts of north Kashmir including Kupwara and Bandipora.

On August 29th, a tragic incident occurred when a minor boy named Zaid Bashir, the son of Bashir Ahmad from Nesbal Sumbal in Bandipora district, lost his life due to a leopard attack in the area. Since then, both children and adults have been living in fear, hesitant to venture outside. The presence of this man-eating animal has instilled a sense of chaos among the local residents, Abdul Gani, a local resident told the news agency—Kashmir News Observer (KNO).

Similarly, Kupwara district has witnessed a distressing surge in human-wildlife conflicts over the past two weeks. During this period, dozens of attacks have occurred in Mawar, Trehgam and Rajwar, claiming the lives of two people, one of whom was a minor, while injuring dozens others.

“People here are unable to leave their homes in the evening, and we are hesitant to allow our children to go outside during the day. Incidents like this occur periodically in this area, and it appears that the administration is unable to address the situation,” remarked Mushtaq Ahmad, a resident of Mawar.

Mohammad Suliman, another resident of Rajwar, expressed grave concerns about the situation in the area, which has deteriorated significantly over the past few months due to the presence of this uncaptured animal. He stressed the heightened risk it poses to everyone, saying, “We are so afraid that we don’t even allow our young children to attend school anymore.” He added that the People’s collective hope now is for a swift resolution—either the animal is captured or eliminated.

A group of local residents from Trehgam expressed their deep concern, stating, “We are constantly anxious and uncertain. The mental well-being of our young children is now being adversely impacted by the fear of this man-eating animal.”

“We have been strongly advising people not to venture into the fields alone and to go out in groups for safety. While we are making every effort to capture or eliminate the animals at the both places including Nesbal Sumbal, Rajwar and Mawar. We rely on the cooperation of the local community to ensure their safety,” said an official.

He further said that their joint operations, involving teams from the wildlife protection department, police, and sharpshooters, persist in the pursuit of capturing or neutralizing these man-eating animals in the duo places.

However, despite our diligent efforts, we have yet to achieve the desired results,” the official remarked. He also raised the possibility that the animal may have relocated to a different area due to the disturbances in the area. “In an advisory issued by the wildlife protection department, it was highlighted that children and women are at a higher risk of leopard and bear encounters. It was recommended that they travel in groups or be accompanied by an elder when venturing into the wilderness. Staying on established forest paths and avoiding shortcuts was advised,” he added.

The advisory further cautioned against entering forests, especially for wood collection, during the early morning or evening hours when leopards are most active. It strongly discouraged approaching or attempting to get close to any wild animals sighted from a distance in forested areas

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