While the department of wildlife protection has been trying to reduce the man-animal conflict to the bare minimum in the Himalayan region, nearly 200 people lost their lives and over 2,000 were injured in man-animal conflict across Jammu and Kashmir since 2011, as per the official data.
Chief Wildlife Warden of Jammu and Kashmir, Suresh Kumar Gupta, said, “man-animal conflict will continue but it can be minimised. The overall data of the past 10 years show that the situation has improved. From 32 deaths and 365 injuries to 10 deaths and 141 injuries last year, we have certainly improved the situation. One-third of the deaths have also reduced”.
Data accessed by the HT show that 196 people were killed and 2,325 were injured since 2011 in Jammu and Kashmir.
Out of the total figures of deaths and injuries, Kashmir reported 118 deaths and 1877 injuries while the Jammu region reported 78 deaths and 448 injuries.
Just earlier this month, the news of a 4-year-old girl mauled and killed by a leopard in Kashmir made headlines. Gupta said the government is now mulling planting 80 percent fruit and fodder trees in jungles to help herbivorous get their food within the jungles, which in turn will help carnivorous get their prey inside the jungle.
According to data, in 2011-12, at least 32 people were killed and 365 were injured, the following year (2012-13) recorded 16 deaths and 305 injuries while in 2013-14, 32 deaths and 369 injuries were reported.
Similarly, in 2014-15, 14 deaths and 240 injuries were reported; 24 deaths and 280 injuries in 2015-16; 22 deaths, 163 injuries in 2016-17; 14 deaths, 166 injuries in 2017-18. The year 2018-19 witnessed 13 deaths and 121 injuries while figures grew to 17 deaths and 156 injuries in 2019-20. As many as ten people were killed while 141 injuries were injured in the conflict in the year 2020-21 while in 2021-22 (up to June 6 recorded) 10 deaths and 141 injuries have been reported.
Gupta said the downward trend in fatalities and injuries in recent years is due to a slew of measures.
“There has been a degradation of wildlife habitat because of an increase in the human population. Now, we are focusing on the rehabilitation of wildlife and therefore 80 percent of the plantation will be of fruit and fodder trees in the forest areas to rehabilitate wildlife. It will help herbivorous animals to get food within the forests and in turn, help carnivorous get their prey within the forests,” Gupta said.
He also informed that the wildlife protection department has set up 42 control rooms that work 24×7 to attend distress calls.
“We are now mulling joint control room of wildlife, forest protection force and forest department because man-animal conflict mostly happens in human habitations near forests,” he added.
Gupta said that the department was well equipped and has adequate cages, tranquillizer guns, trap poles, vehicles, mobikes. Net guns are a new addition to their kitty, he said.
Compensation to victims
The department provides ₹3,00,000 compensation in case of death or permanent incapacitation of a body part in such conflicts. ₹1,00,000 is provided as compensation in cases of serious injuries and ₹15,000 in case of minor injuries.
“For the past seven to eight years, we are providing ₹1 crore to ₹1.50 crores every year as compensation to the affected people and their kin,” he said.
Dos and don’ts to reduce conflicts
The department has issued an advisory and circulated videos on social media categorically explaining the dos and don’ts.
“People get killed or injured mostly by leopards and bears. Therefore, people living close to jungles, should not venture out alone. While attending nature’s call or cutting grass in their fields they shouldn’t be alone and someone should stand guard next to them because seeing an individual sitting alone in fields, animals consider them as their prey,” said Gupta.
If there’s a beast on the prowl stay indoors and immediately call control rooms or dial 100, he added.
The department’s field staff capture hardly 10 percent of the animals and mostly burst firecrackers to scare them away to their habitat.