SRINAGAR: As per a research, from year 2006 to 2020, more than 250 people including children and young, have died and near about 4000 were injured in human-wildlife conflict in Kashmir. Earlier, it was understood that wild animals are often forced to venture into human habitations searching for food and shelter, but now scenario has changed due to massive deforestation, raising of concrete jungles and construction of roads, leading to the loss of habitat for leopards and bears in Kashmir.It is a leading cause of increasing wildlife conflict with humans. Many experts have said, if administration is really sincere in protecting both men and animals, then it must stop further destruction of forest areas and diverting forest land for developmental purposes.Experts also suggest that there should be a massive afforestation programme throughout Jammu and Kashmir.As per the data, more than 45,000 trees were axed in the Pir Panjal forests, for laying 440 Kv double-circuit Jallandhar-Samba Amargrah transmission line in 2017-18. This transmission line passes through 340 square km of the Herpora wildlife reserve in Shopian district. Local people told to STATE TIMES that such mass destruction of forest area disturbed habitat of local wildlife, including the Himalayan brown bear and black bear, musk deer, leopard, Tibetan wolf, Himalayan palm and world-famous Peer Panjaal Markhor. The massive destruction of forests is also responsible for the migration of leopards from higher altitudes to low-lying areas in Pulwama and Budgam Districts.According to wildlife official, around 400-450 well-trained staff members are on job, who are particularly associated for protection and propagation for conservation purposes. When asked about reasons behind increase in the number of incidents regarding human-wildlife conflict, the officials said the wild animals are in their own jurisdiction, but we the humans have infiltrated and continuously infiltrating their homes. Not only this, but now humans have made their settlements close or inside the forest territories. So, we should be prepared for the consequences as well, they said. Recently, heartbreaking incident has taken place in Ompora area of District Budgam of Kashmir, in which a 4-year-old girl was mauled to death by a leopard. Locals blamed this incident has taken place due to negligence of forest as well as wildlife officials. They said that the area is covered with an adjacent dense nursery, which became more dense like forest with passing of days.Officials of the wildlife, while talking to STATE TIMES, inormed, “When this tragic incident happened our department set-up camps there and just after few days, officers trapped the leopard as well. Unfortunately, this particular house, where the heart-breaking incident took place, is very close to the nursery and did not even have proper fencing.”The officials further revealed, “despite less resources and man-power, the department is trying its best, and in many cases we have given safe passage to the wild animalsThis human-wild conflict is not in Kashmir only but around the world but there is big difference in behaviour of people. “People response towards wild-animals in a more civilized manner, due to which man-animal conflicts are very less than in Kashmir,” they added.About the work and responsibility of Jammu and Kashmir’s Forest Department amid the rising number of wild animal attacks in Kashmir, officials informed that we need to make a joint strategy. Wildlife officials and Forest protection force collectively can tackle this situation very well, they asserted.
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