Another feline killed in rising man-leopard conflict in Uttarakhand hills

Dehradun : Man-animal conflict, or to be more precise man-leopard conflict has touched an all time high in the hill districts of this mountain state as a feline on Thursday evening attacked two persons in Lakhamandal area of Chakrata. Later the villagers managed to round up the animal and beat it to death.

According to reports reaching the state headquarters, Surat and Vinod were attacked by the leopard, when they had gone to their fields.

While one report said that they had gone in search of their goats, another said they had gone to water the crops in their fields, when they were attacked by the leopard.

The duo fought back and raised a cry for help on which the villagers reached the spot in large numbers.

Armed with sticks, the villagers surrounded the bushes in which the animal had taken refuge after the commotion was raised by the persons it had attacked.

They threw stones in the bushes forcing the leopard to come out and there after brutally beat it to death.

However, besides Surat and Vinod, two others were injured by the feline before it succumbed to the lathi blows received by it.

The leopard-man conflict has reached a critical level in Garhwal, Lansdowne, Tehri, Kedarnath and Narendranagar areas of this small mountain state.

However, despite the people killing leopards not only when attacked but also to smuggle their skins and other body parts to China and Nepal, and also knowing well that their numbers has increased considerably the state forest department is doing precious little to contain the situation.

Officials of the forest department here conceded that no head count or census of the animals had taken place after 2008, and as such how much their numbers had increased would at best be a wild guess.

But the frequency of man-leopard coming into direct conflict with each other has increased and so has the number of attacks by the felines on children over the past couple of years, they claimed.

They said that the forest cover in the hills was depleting alarmingly, because of which the herbivore strength in the forests was going down, forcing the leopards to frequent villages in search of food.

This was bringing the animal in direct conflict with man and unless something was done to not only increase the forest cover but also reduce the interference of man in these forests, the conflict would only increase.

Officials said that the centre had once touted shifting and rehabilitating the leopards in other forests of the country to reduce their numbers in a particular region, but apparently the states which are leopard free do not want to take the animals as they fear that it may raise man-leopard conflict in their states also.

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A journalist with over 40 years of experience, Jagdish Bhatt was Editor, Hill Post (Uttarakhand). Jagdish had worked with India's leading English dailies, which include Times of India, Indian Express, Pioneer and several other reputed publications. A highly acclaimed journalist, he was a recipient of many awards Jagdish Bhatt, aged 72, breathed his last on 28th August 2021 at his Dehradun residence.

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