Srinagar, Jan 15: Forget humans, wild animals are now bearing the brunt of frequent snow spells in the valley.
Kashmir has been facing frequent spells of snowfall since November 7, which has led to food scarcity in jungles forcing animals to forage in the low-lying areas.
This can be gauged by the fact that more animals have been driven back and rescued this winter compared to previous year. Government has also issued an advisory to sensitize the people living near the forests areas. It lists the precautionary measures to be taken by them when encountered with wild animals.
A document of Wildlife Department accessed by The Kashmir Monitor reveals that for the last two months, 18 black bears have been driven back with three captured and released in Shopian and Pulwama districts.
Besides, three leopards have been driven back with one captured and released. The porcupines have also drifted to the human habitats with three of them captured and released in twin districts of South Kashmir.
“In the winter months of 2017-18, eight black bears were driven back and two captured and released in these two districts. In the same season, two leopards were driven back and one captured and released whereas in 2018-19, nine black bears were driven back and one captured and released,” reads the document.
An official of the Wildlife Department said the wild animals can come in the contact of humans when food is not readily available in the forest areas.
“The herbivorous animals like Hangul and Grey Himalayan Langur are mostly dependent on plants, grasses and leaves. The thick layers of snow block their access to the food due to which they can descend to the low-lying areas. In these circumstances, Hangul can also become an easy prey to Leopards,” he explained.
The officials said in extreme situation, black and brown bears can go for hibernation. “The Leopard being a carnivore may or may not get a natural prey. So it is also likely that it will venture to the human habitats,” he said
Wildlife Warden, Central, Altaf Hussain said that animals are naturally adapted to the climatic conditions. “However, food scarcity can propel them to stray into low lying areas. In such a scenario, we have resorted to artificial feeding. Like in Dachigham National Park, we are using Willow Bachas. It refers to the branches of willow trees that are cut and tied up in small piles in the autumn season. With the onset of winter, they are hung from trees or scattered over so that Hangul can survive on it,” he said
Hussain noted that they also place fresh vegetables all over the place for the consumption of wild animals. “Further, we dig large holes in the land and fill them with water. This gives animals an access to water.”
Wildlife Warden, Shopian, Intesar Suhail said the wildlife department is well-equipped to deal with any emergency.
“With more trained staff at hand, we are able to rescue the animals. In the recent stint of snowfall, we received 3-4 calls from Pulwama and Shopian, where the animals successfully were sent back to forest and no human casualty was reported,” he said.