The killings by a leopard in Kupwara clearly shows the growing conflict between man and animals in Kashmir. Man-animal conflict is emerging as a major concern for Jammu and Kashmir. It is not a local phenomenon; but an issue that spans a diverse array of geographic and human demographic contexts. Although humans and carnivores have co-existed for a long time but the frequency of conflicts have increased in recent decades as a result of increased human activities in wildlife areas and forests.
According to the World Conservation Union (World Park Congress 2003), conflict occurs when wildlife’s requirements overlap with those of human populations, creating costs to residents and wild animals. If man destroys or disturbs animal’s habitat it is quite obvious that there will be struggle for the survival from the part of animal. The destruction of their habitat due to human activities compels the wild animals to enter human settlements in search of food and water leading to conflict.
People generally get rid of conflict problem by killing the wild animals, but it is not the ultimate solution. Here are some of the suggestions which can help in decreasing conflict rate and saving precious lives.
Human population is increasing rapidly. The census for Jammu and Kashmir during 2001 reported a human population of 100,699,17. As a result of growing human population, changing land use practices and resultant anthropogenic pressures, forest cover has either decreased or declined in quality due to habitat degradation. Avoiding deforestation and planting new trees in forest areas can help a lot in reducing conflict rate in long run.
Organize awareness programs:
Though locals were living with wildlife for ages, their knowledge about the behavior and ecology of the species is remarkably poor. So governmental and non government organizations must come forward and organize awareness programs.
Giving awareness targeting to the villagers will help in the coexistence between human and wildlife. It will help in creating tolerance towards the wildlife. Education and training activities at different levels, like in schools and colleges will help to reduce conflict rate. Giving practical skills to people would help them in better dealing with dangerous wildlife effectively and defend themselves. Training and education programmes for the wildlife personnel, giving proper skills for dealing with dangerous wild animals would promote commitment towards conservation and raise the welfare level of animals.
Avoid rearing of pet animals:
As rearing of pet animals like dogs in and around our houses can act as an attractant for wild animals, thus people living near forest areas must avoid pets. Unsupervised livestock grazing must also be avoided.
Do not disturb or irritate animals:
It has been seen at many places that animals attack when they were being chased away by people. People must avoid such things and immediately contact wildlife department in case of emergency. It has been found that black bears generally do not attack people unless and until: – (1) they feel threatened; (2) it is a sudden encounter, or (3) a female black bear with cubs or with food. Thus if we avoid disturbing animals, chances of conflict are less.
Care must be taken when away from home:
As it has been found that most of the attacks by wild animals occur during evening or early morning hours people living near forest areas must avoid leaving homes during these periods of day. If it is necessary they can move in groups as wild animals usually avoid people in groups.
Children must not be allowed to move out of their houses alone as wild animals prefer to attack children.
(Zaffar Rais Mir is M.Sc Zoology, KU. Feedback at firstname.lastname@example.org)