Dehradun : Uttarakhand may be known for its bio-diversity and its forests abound with wild life. But given the apathy of the state government towards the wild animals as also that of its forest department, rampant killing, specially of big cats like the leopard and tigers has been reported time and again from this small hill state, and apparently no one cares a fig.
On 26th February evening, a special team of the police nabbed a youth on the Balghat-Pandrahpalli motor road in Kumaon division of the state and recovered two skins of leopards from his possession. His companion taking advantage of the failing light, managed to give the police the slip and escaped while the nabbed person has been arrested.
What is irking wild life lovers in this small mountain state is the regular incidents of leopard hides being recovered from the people in the entire hilly tract, where the animals are known to be in large numbers. It is obvious that the skins are in big demand and the people are aware of this fact and even know the outlet where they can be sold at a huge price.
Though the exact number of leopards killed in the two months of this year is debatable, but the figures are being put at a minimum 25 to a maximum 50, depending on which side of the fence one is in. While wild life lovers are putting the number of deaths at about 50, forest department sources admitted, albeit unofficially, that the number could be about 25.
The length of the the two skins, one measured eight feet 10 inches and the other seven feet seven inches, indicate that the killing of leopards is being done for the skins and other parts of their body, for full grown males and females are picked up by the poachers. Whether they use snares to trap the animals and then kill them, or shoot them depends upon different areas.
A main reason for the killing of leopards in this small mountain state is the fact that their numbers have increased over the years, even as their habitat has shrunk due to various developmental projects and encroachment by villagers into forest land. This has taken the man-animal conflict to serious proportions in Uttarakhand.
As the leopards are known to attack cattle and even children, there is growing animosity of the people against the felines and any killing of a leopard, rather than being reported is generally accepted as riddance of a menaced.
It is because of this that poachers killing leopards are not welcomed in the villages and there is rampant killing of the animals as their parts mean big money.