Attack by wild animals becoming more frequent in Uttarakhand

Dehra Dun : Uttarakhand is a small mountain state of contrasts. Where on one side poachers are having field day, killing animals at will, including the national animal tiger, on the other man-animal conflict has peaked and leopards, bears and even elephants are striking at will sending shivers down the spine of the rural population.

Sunday was a classic example of the man-animal conflict, when a leopard attacked a woman, but thankfully she was able to get away with minor injuries, but another woman was badly mauled by a bear and died on her way to hospital and an elephant played havoc in a village mealing upon the standing crop, till it was scared away by bursting fire crackers by the forest department staff.

According to report, 52-year-old Darshani Devi, of Panchur village in Pauri district of the state went to answer the call of nature behind her house. A leopard which was waiting in the bushes, perhaps to pick up a calf or dog attacked her. She raises an alarm on which villagers came running, but luckily a scythe lying nearby came into her hand and she attacked the animal, which fled. Injured, she is lucky to be alive to tell the tale, though admitted in the hospital.

In the other incident, 35-year-old Kansri Devi, resident of Banari Banchauri village also in Pauri district, was working alone in the filed when a huge sloth bear attacked and mauled her badly. Desperately she put a bold fight with the animal, but could not match the strength and big claws of the bear. The unconscious Kansri Devi was later picked up by villagers and taken to the local hospital who referred her to a specialist hospital here. She, however, succumbed to her injuries on way.

For Nakraunda villagers, it was a trying Sunday, as they were pitched against a wild elephant who came to their fields and started mealing on their standing crops. The villagers tried to scare the animal, which would go back, only to return anmd start eating the crops again. This continued for quite some time and a situation came when the elephant refused to go back to the forest and continued eating in the fields.

Exasperated, the villagers rushed to seek help of the forest department staff, who also tried that the elephant return to the forests, but the pachyderm refused to go back. Left with no alternative, they got some fire crackers (thankfully Dewali is round the corner) and burst them near the animal which scared it back.

Meanwhile senior forest officers, on anonymity, admitted that the man-animal conflict in Uttarakhand had reached serious proportions, as it was not confined to one part of the state alsone, but was affecting the entire state, specially in the rural areas. “It is quite apparent that the state government is waking up the situation, after the damage has been done and it will be years before green infrastructure can be created, which will partially resolve the problem”, they felt

A journalist with over 40 years of experience, Jagdish Bhatt is Editor Hill Post (Uttarakhand). Jagdish has worked with India's leading English dailies, which include Times of India, Indian Express, Pioneer and several other reputed publications. A highly acclaimed journalist, Jagdish is a recipient of many awards, latest being the 2011 Development Journalism Award. He lives in Dehra Dun.

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