Dehra Dun : The number of leopards and tigers dying in Uttarakhand is disturbing. And though the forest authorities are conveniently passing off the deaths as either natural or due to illness or a fight for territorial rights, the fact remains that wild life lovers are now resting their hopes that the Supreme Court will intervene and make the state government pull up its socks.
In yet another report of the death of the felines, state forest department officials confirmed the death of two panthers and a tigress in the forests of the Kumaon division of this small hill state.
The age of the tigress has been put at eight years, while that of one of the leopards at two years. The carcasses of the felines were found in a highly decomposed state.
But what is appalling is the fact that though the forest authorities are not willing to accept it, but wild life lovers are putting the number of death of the felines in the two months of this year in the state at 44.
Of these they claim that there have been as many 41 leopards that have either been killed by poachers or have dies and three tigers, which should send shivers down the spine of the forest authorities.
While there is no denying the fact that hardened poachers have been active in the forests of Uttarakhand killing leopards and tigers so that they can sell their body parts and skins to smugglers who smuggle them to the adjoining countries where they are used for medicinal purposes, but the very fact that the forest authorities have not been able to out an end to the menace is discerning.
However, a reason for the increase in the number of leopard deaths is the fact that the man-leopard conflict in Uttarakhand has reached very staggering proportions.
The increase in the leopard population and decline in its habitat due to the various development projects and encroachment by human being is the reason behind the conflict.
Wildlife lovers here were of the view that the state government should undertake a survey of leopards in this small hill state at the earliest so that efforts can be made to reduce the man-animal conflict.
Though a time consuming process, they feel that it should have been undertaken in the initial years of the formation of Uttarakhand so that a policy could have been formed for containing their numbers and increasing their habitat to reduce the man-animal conflict.