When wild animals roam in cities!!!
The other day, a she bear was seen roaming in Srinagar’s posh Rajbagh area. It also mauled one person in Lal Mandi area. The very presence of wild animals in the heart of city created scare all over and special announcements were made from the public address systems of local mosques asking people to stay indoors. Thankfully the Wild Life Department officials swung into action and the duo was captured next morning and thus peoples’ lives were saved. The presence of wild animals in city made headlines all over and genuinely so. However, very little attention is being paid as the wild animals play havoc in rural areas; destroy crops, kill humans as well as live stock.
June this year, Three children were killed by leopard in Bernate village of Boniyar in Uri. Such reports keep coming from rural areas but get mention in the media only when humans fall prey to such animals. In villages, wild bears roam freely and destroy the crops but neither the media nor the administration and concerned Wild Life Department takes any notice of such incidents. Nobody understands that loss of crops is as painful to poor farmers as getting injured physically by these wild animals.
The human-animal conflict is a new norm in Kashmir. The reports about these conflicts often appear in the media. The conflict has emerged as a big challenge to the related official agencies. As per official data as many as 123 people were killed and nearly 2000 wounded in attacks by wild animals in the Valley during from 2011. It is not only humans but domestic animals too are falling prey to wild animals. However, such incidents are rarely reported though. A deeper study of the issue indicates that from understaffed and ill-equipped Wild Life Department to human interference in habitats of wild animals there are so many issues responsible for the conflict. Experts say that the Wild Life Department gets the least attention by the authorities and as a result it is understaffed. The employees of the department lack proper training and equipment.
Besides, the human intervention in the original habitat of wild animals is disturbing these animals and forcing them towards human habitats resulting into the conflict. Experts say that the leopards have got urbanized on the 20 to 25 kilometer long stretch of the Karewa (Wodder) in Badgam over the years. Since this Karewa is vegetated, it gives required cover to the animals. Leopards don’t necessarily need huge jungles to live in. They would live anywhere subject some cover and food availability. The leopards living in the Karewa vegetation find their food easily in terms of dogs. The dog population is always growing in nearby areas due to the mismanagement of solid waste. That means these leopards have both the required things —the cover and food — available here.
The conflict is also triggered by the massive deforestation, construction of roads and infrastructure projects and encroachment of wildlife habitats by humans. The greed and longing for more resources by humans have led to the loss of wildlife habitat. To ensure the safety of both humans and animals, the authorities need to stop the further destruction of forest areas and do away with diverting forest land for developmental projects. While people and the administration should avoid interfering with the natural habitat of wild animals, the Wild Life Department should be provided ample work force and modern technology so that the conflict is minimized. To monitor the movement of wild animals, the department should install CTV cameras in all potential areas and have a close communication with the populace there. The concerned department and common people should work hand-in-hand to ensure safety of both humans as well as wild animals.