PUNE: Citizens should be more sensitive to animals living in close proximity to human habitation and chasing or beating them will only force the animals to retaliate, urged wildlife biologist, Vidya Athreya on Wednesday.
Athreya who works at the Wildlife Conservation Society of India was speaking at the conference 'Jungle Lore', organised as part of the ongoing 7th Kirloskar Vasundhara international film festival.
Addressing the gathering, Athreya said that incidents like the recent case of a leopard injuring a villager in Shelarwadi, Dehu road cantonment area can be avoided with correct handling of the situation. "Animals are more scared of us than we are of them. Research says that if we don't trouble them, they will not trouble us," she said.
Lauding the tolerance of the people in rural areas for having co-existed with animals for centuries, Athreya said that chasing away animals with sticks, or crowding around them is what makes them retaliate. It's best to walk away, when an animal is sighted, she said.
The conference also had a session on eco-tourism and challenges which was addressed by Nitin Kakodkar, chief conservator of forests (education and training). Kakodkar underlined the need to involve the locals and every other stake holder in conservation and promotion of such sites.
He stressed on the need to educate local populations on the benefits of eco-tourism, including generation of employment and increasing revenue to improve their standard of living.
The day-long conference also had a session on joint forest management with a case study of Sakude village (Purandar taluka) presented by committee president, Suresh Saste. Pramod Patil who works for the conservation of the Great Indian Bustard addressed a session on the initiatives being taken for conserving the birds, while conservationist Sanjay Rahangdale spoke on floral diversity of Junnar taluka with special reference to Ceropegias.
Prachi Mehta of Wildlife Research and Conservation Society suggested simple measures for better management of animal-human conflicts, in order to protect crops from animal destruction, with a special reference to elephants have made their way from Karnataka into Maharashtra.
Jungle Lore, organized with a larger objective of involving the youth and nature lovers in environment conservation also had an interactive session on careers in the field and forest departments.
The conference concluded with the felicitation of three Indian Forest Service (IFS) guards for their contribution towards environment conservation.