Snow makes HP vil­lages prone to leop­ard at­tacks

Hindustan Times (Jalandhar) - - REGION - Gau­rav Bisht Gau­rav.bisht@hin­dus­tan­times.com

SHIMLA: Snow­fall in high al­ti­tude ar­eas of the state has made vil­lages prone to leop­ard at­tacks. Leopards de­scend to the lower hills in win­ter in search of prey. In the past five years, leopards have at­tacked 110 hu­mans and killed nine of them. The wildlife wing has paid ₹22 lakh as com­pen­sa­tion to fam­i­lies of those killed, says prin­ci­pal chief con­ser­va­tor of for­est wildlife depart­ment RC Kang. More at­tacks are re­ported from Kullu and Ram­pur Bushar.

The wildlife wing of the for­est depart­ment will con­duct a sur­vey to as­cer­tain the num­ber of leopards. In the last sur­vey in 2004, there were 785 leopards, in­clud­ing 24 in cap­tiv­ity.

“Dur­ing the win­ters, an­i­mals are in non-breed­ing stage and usu­ally mi­grate to lower el­e­va­tion ar­eas. Sim­i­lar is the case with the leopards as they mi­grate in search of food,” said Dr San­deep Rat­tan, wildlife vet­eri­nar­ian.

In the last one month, more than a dozen leop­ard at­tacks have been re­ported in the state, said a for­est of­fi­cial.

Re­cently, a leop­ard killed a mule in Barchana vil­lage near Kullu town. “I had tied my mule in the cow­shed, sud­denly I heard the mule bray­ing loudly. We rushed to the shed and saw a leop­ard prey­ing on her, we raised alarm fear­ing which the leop­ard fled the vil­lage,” said Hem­s­ingh, a vil­lager.

SEM­I­NARS TO RE­DUCE MAN-AN­I­MAL CON­FLICT

In the wake of in­creas­ing leop­ard at­tacks, the wildlife wing of the for­est depart­ment has been hold­ing the sem­i­nars in the ar­eas which are more prone to these at­tacks.

“So far we have held sem­i­nars in the three for­est di­vi­sions, we in­tend to hold sem­i­nars in al­most all the for­est di­vi­sions. Be­sides this, we ap­prise the for­est staff about the dos and don'ts for the vil­lages that are more prone to leop­ard at­tacks,” said Rat­tan.

SUR­VEY TO AS­CER­TAIN NUM­BER OF LEOPARDS

The wildlife wing of the for­est depart­ment has de­cided to con­duct a statewide sur­vey to as­cer­tain the num­ber of leopards.

A study that was held in 2016, stated that leop­ard at­tacks are more prom­i­nent in Hamir­pur, Mandi and Bi­laspur dis­tricts. Fur­ther­more, leopards have not only at­tacked hu­mans liv­ing close to pro­tected ar­eas, but also those ar­eas ly­ing out­side the for­est.

The for­est depart­ment has so far con­ducted the sur­vey in five of the for­est di­vi­sions, in­clud­ing Una, Hamir­pur, Dehra, Nur­pur and Nala­garh.

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