by Tahir Bhat
SRINAGAR: After the pets and zoo inmates in China and USA were reported to have been infected by the Coronavirus, the major crisis for the wildlife protectors in the rest of the world was how to prevent the infection from getting into the woods. Quickly, almost everywhere the lockdown was strictly implemented on the brims of the human population bordering the forests.
Advisories were issued as Kashmir is home to around 15 big cats. Field staff was sanitised and the people were asked to avoid getting deep into the forests. Dependence of people living on the foothills, on the margins of the forests is huge. Apart from fuel-wood, they also extract certain eatables from the forests. There is commercial harvesting of precious mushrooms and medicinal plants as well. Somehow the advisories helped.
The situation took an interesting turn. As the people stopped getting into the forests, the wildlife started moving towards the human habitations.
On Friday, two bears were seen hugging and entertaining people on the main road to Bharat village. A day later, the wildlife officials had to drive to rescue one of the bears – possibly from the same duo, from a water tank.
Early this week, a leopard got into a family and left seven persons injured before the locals called the wildlife staff and they tranquilised the animal and removed it. The injured were removed to the hospitals and given medical aid.
Earlier in a similar incident on April 2, a leopard barged into Khud Hanjipora belts in Kulgam’s Noorabad and injured eight residents. In a quick reaction, the villagers chased the animals and killed it. Later, some residents took away the animal’s prized skin.
“The village is very close to the forest and has been known for human-animal conflict for years,” Showkat Aijaz Bhat was quoted saying. “The villagers have apparently killed the animal to avenge the injuries to so many people. But killing the animal should have been avoided.” Later the wildlife authorities registered a case against those killing the leopard.
As the lockdown is restricting the people to their homes, the wildlife is moving around without any obstruction. This phenomenon, reported world over, is actually creating grave situations in areas like Kashmir. Jammu and Kashmir has stringent wildlife protection laws but the human population is not adequately protected enough against the frequent attacks from the wildlife especially in areas living closer to the forests.