On Saturday, television screens were ablaze with visuals of villagers trying to torch a bear alive in south Kashmir’s Kulgam district. Also, a bear had killed a 55-year-old on Thursday in north Kashmir. While the two incidents occurred in places afar, the common thread was the increasing man-animal conflict in India.
The bear had attacked a house in Mohammadpora, before climbing a tree, on Tuesday. In the four days the videos taken on mobile phones went viral, it was dubbed as human aggression.
Wildlife warden of Kulgam-Anantnag region, Imtiyaz Ahmad, however, disagreed. “It was not to kill but to scare the bear away. Our staff members saw it running back into the forest safe.”
Records show an increasing trend of man-animal conflict between 1995 and 2009. In south Kashmir alone, wildlife officials said 19 people had lost their lives and over 200 injured in animal attacks in the past two years.
“Last year, 12 people died in bear and leopard attacks,” said Ahmad.
Officials give different reasons for the increasing encounters. “The main reason is conversion of paddy land near forests into orchards, which attract bears. Also, with the ban on shooting animals.
‘Man-animal conflict has become a political issue in Kashmir’
Srinagar, Nov 22: In the wake of rising incidents of man-animal conflict involving mostly bears in the Valley, experts have recommended formulation of a comprehensive plan to prevent the situation from escalation.
“The Hangul centric conservation efforts have taken heavy toll on other wild animals particularly bears. Jammu and Kashmir has a lopsided policy for equitable conservation of wild animals as it is only concentrating on Kashmir division and has totally neglected Ladakh and Jammu,” said Dr M K Ranjitsinh, chairman Wildlife Trust of India (WTI) during the 21st International Conference on Bear Research and Management, here today.
“We need to protect bear habitants from human intervention to prevent the bears from intruding into human habitations,” he said.
Chief Wildlife Warden J&K, AK Singh, said the government was making efforts to check the man-animal conflict. “Man-animal conflict has become a political issue in Kashmir. Sometimes it even changes into law and orders situation as people themselves try to tame the wild animals. However due to our sustained efforts we have prevent considerable number of man-animal conflict incidents,” he said.
Regional Wildlife Warden Kashmir Manzoor Ahmad Tak said man-animal conflict has emerged as major challenges for the wildlife department. He said in coordination with various organizations including Wildlife Trust of India (WTI) and Wildlife Institute of India efforts are being made to minimize incidents of man-animal conflict.
Dr Vivek Menon co-chair IBA and executive director WTI minced no words to accuse the states of being indifferent towards bears. “26 out of 32 states in the country have wild animals, other than bear as their state symbol.
“In Kashmir, the man-animal conflict involving bear has assumed horrendous ramifications. For past four years we have been working check the problem. We have devised some measures including rapid response teams, relief and ex-gratia to victims and awareness about wild animals particularly bears as long term solution,” he said.
Dr John Beecham co-chair Bear Conflict Special Group gave a global overview of man-animal conflict and recommended measures to control it. Dr Satyakumar scientist Wildlife Institute of India said dwelt on conflict management measures.
With the onset of winter bears and leopards have been frequently spotted in residential areas like Harwan, Brein, Nishat, which fall in the Zabarwan range. Besides the city, the problem is severe across the countryside like Kupwara, Bandipora and Pulwama where forests have been vandalized by the smugglers during past 20 years.