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Leopard attacks to snake bites: Human-animal conflict surges amid lockdown in Kashmir

Srinagar: Forget COVID, Kashmir has witnessed a spurt in human-animal conflict during the lockdown.

Wildlife Department figures reveal that a  total of 192 incidents of man-animal conflict have taken place from March to May end. Of which, 158 incidents have occurred in south Kashmir alone.

The highest number of 125 incidents have taken place in Anantnag followed by 33 in Kupwara.

“Five leopard attacks have resulted in two human injuries, 45 livestock deaths, and three injuries to the cattle. Similarly, four bear attacks have caused four human injuries, and one monkey attack has also resulted in a human injury,” an official document reads.

Similarly, figures indicate that a total of 34 man-animal conflicts have taken place in Srinagar, Ganderbal, Khrew, and Pampore.

“The incidents include seven black bear attacks, two leopard attacks, 15 monkey attacks, four snake attacks, and six porcupine attacks,” the document reads.

Wildlife Warden, South, Abdul Rouf Zargar said less human interference in the wake of lockdown and silence in the adjoining urban areas have given a mistaken sense of expanded territory to the wild animals.

“They venture out of their territory, sometimes misled by prevailing pin-drop silence due to the lockdown,” he said.

A total of 20,230 sq km area in J&K is under forest cover. Of which 12,050 sq km area is in Jammu, 8,115 sq km in Kashmir, and 17 sq km in the Ladakh region.

The last three months have marked unusual activity with wild animals increasingly found entering human habitats.

“Earlier, the wild animals did not venture beyond their territory due to human presence. But with no or subdued human activity around, the animals are going beyond their territories,” said Altaf Hussain, Wildlife Warden, Central.

He, however, hastened to add, although the animal sightings are more, there is not a sharp spike in the incidents per se.

“Besides, bear conflicts can increase in this season as they come out of their hibernation. However, we have stepped up our preparedness measures and there is a trained staff already in place,” he said.

Both Wildlife Wardens have urged people living in and around the forest areas to venture into groups, if the need arises, to avoid human-animal conflict.