Snow makes HP villages prone to leopard attacks
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.