by Muhammad Hassan Shah
SRINAGAR: With the increased sighting of leopards in domestic areas in Kashmir, the Wildlife Department has no estimation of the total number of leopards in the Valley.
Regional Wildlife Warden Rashid Naqash said that the department doesn’t have any estimate of the total number of leopards in the valley.
The revelation comes in the backdrop of the department’s claim of actively tracking the leopards and other wild animals who are frequently thronging the domestic areas.
Asked about the reasons behind increased sightings, Naqash said the continuous change in the landscape due to uncontrolled urbanization is one of the key factors.
“Information network is quite strong these days. People are informed quickly and get scared,” he said.
He, however, denied the claim of locals from Budgam that a nursery built by the wildlife department in the area is the reason for increased wildlife sightings. “This isn’t true.”
On the counter-measures to be adopted to prevent the attraction of wild animals, Naqash said negative aspects of urbanization need to be addressed along with taking remedial steps towards trash management.
“High population of dogs, appropriate vegetation, and better street lighting can help in bringing down the number of sightings,” he said.
“As preventive measures, we provide advisories to the management team and also take the issues to the print and electronic media for awareness,” he added.
In recent cases of man-animal conflict, a five-year-old girl from Budgam was killed by a leopard while a 35-year-old man, Farooq Ahmad Gujjar from Bandipora was injured by a bear in September last year. Earlier, Gulam Qadir Sheikh from Budgam was attacked by a bear while a young boy, Javid Ahmed Mir’s body was recovered five weeks after a bear had attacked him in central Kashmir’s Ganderbal district.