‘We heard her screams’: Family recounts horror as 5-year-old Adda becomes latest victim of human-animal conflict in Kashmir
Srinagar: A shattered family and an unfathomable trauma. That is what 5-year-old Adda Yasir Mir left behind for a grieving family.
“Her doll and chappals could be found later after her scream was heard by me,” her grandfather said as he broke down.
On June 3, the girl, hailing from the Ompora Housing Colony of Budgam district was riding her bicycle on the lawn of her house when the family was shaken by a sharp scream.
“It was around 7:00 pm in the evening when the girl went missing. We suspected she had been attacked by a leopard and began searching for her till 3 in the night. However, our search proved to be futile. We could not trace her. However, we spotted some bloodstains, and footwear of the girl during our search,” their neighbor said.
He said there is a nursery under the Forest Department in the area which has not been fenced properly. “It’s a densely treed spot inside. In 2014, the leopard was first sighted here. Later a CCTV camera in the neighborhood captured four of them,” he maintained.
Locals have been sending SOS to the wildlife department to take swift action and capture the animals.
“However, for the last six years, all they do is visit here for one hour and go back. They have always disappointed us. We knew they won’t take action unless human life is lost,” another neighbour said.
It was around 11:30 am on Friday when her body was retrieved. “The body was found inside the nursery in a mutilated condition,” a local said.
Jolted into urgent action, the authorities have asked wildlife warden Budgam to deploy staff with machinery for the elimination of the leopard, which devoured a minor girl.
The Kashmir Monitor tried to speak to the Regional Warden Wildlife, Kashmir and Warden Wildlife, Central Kashmir. However, both claimed to be busy in a meeting.
However, officials told a local news agency that a meeting was chaired by Deputy Commissioner Budgam with the district’s Senior Superintendent of Police, Divisional Forest Officer, and Wildlife Warden in attendance.
Deputy Commissioner has asked DFO, PP Division Budgam, to ensure immediate removal of fallen material and other cultural operations at Ompora Forests and other risk areas forthwith in order to avoid any further loss of life and property in the area.
Sources said wildlife staff has been asked to intensify patrolling and create awareness among the general public regarding the maneater leopard in the area. Officials have been asked to take immediate steps for capturing the wild animal.
Incidents of human-animal conflict have seen a surge in the valley. Human-wildlife conflict refers to an interaction between wild animals and people and resultant negative impact on people or their resources, or wild animals or their habitat. Human-Wildlife Conflict (HWC) occurs when wildlife requirements overlap with those of human populations, creating costs both to residents and wild animals.
Wildlife Department figures accessed by The Kashmir Monitor reveal that man versus animal conflict has claimed the lives of 32 persons since 2017. Similarly, 498 persons have got injured in the last four years in the region.