Leopard-human conflict issue in India yet to be looked into

SURAT: The issue of leopard-human conflict in rural areas of south Gujarat has now come to the fore. Leopards have killed six human beings and two wild cats have also been killed in the past 50 days in the region. However, the forest department is yet to take concrete steps to address the real issue of leopard-human conflict.

“We are working on an awareness programme to address the leopard-human conflict. Forest department believes that by creating awareness among the villagers, the incidents of leopard-human conflict can be reduced,” principal chief conservator of forest, wildlife, R V Asari said.

It is 52nd day of the first human death at Kamlapor village in a leopard attack on November 6. But the awareness programme is yet to reach the affected village.

Similar is the story of Nanpor village in Mandvi taluka. A 21-year-old woman was killed by a leopard on November 18 in a sugarcane farm. “Forest officials had come to the village soon after the death of the woman in a leopard attack to give compensation to her next of kin. Thereafter, no official had turned up for any group meeting or for the awareness campaign,” sarpanch of Nanpor village Lalita Chaudhary said. However, she confirmed that two handbills were stuck by the forest department in the village of 1,100.

In the absence of a well-designed awareness programme, a leopard was killed by humans. Besides, a suspected man-eater leopard was shot dead near Areth village.

“Caging leopards or killing them will not resolve the issue. We have successfully controlled the leopard- human conflict in Maharashtra,” said Pune-based biologist Vidya Athrey of ‘Project Waghoba’ and an expert in leopard-human conflict issue.

yagnesh.mehta@timesgroup.com

bigcatrescue.org

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