Friday, November 13, 2009

India: Human-animal conflict takes heavy toll on wildlife

DEHRADUN - Thursday, November 12, 2009
PNS - Rudraprayag

The continued conflict between humans and leopards in Jakholi development block of Rudraprayag District is an example of problems created by the drastic reduction of the wildlife which consists the natural prey base of leopards.

Dissemination of incorrect information and lack of scientific investigation in to so-called attacks on humans by man-eating leopards in the Jakholi block alone have resulted in the death of at least two leopards — one by shooting and one by poisoning, during the past three months.

The so called man-eating leopard which spread fear in villages of Jakholi development block was alleged to have caused the death of two women. One woman was attacked by the leopard after sunset when she was doing her chores while the other woman was attacked when she went outside her home during the night time.

However, when attacked, both the women were able to shout for help in reply to which their family members came and were able to shoo the leopard away.

Though both the women were alive when left injured by the attacking leopard, they died later in the hospital during treatment due to the severity of their injuries. About one dozen persons in at least three villages were also reportedly attacked and injured by the allegedly man-eating leopard of Jakholi.

Local environmentalists point out that though the leopard accused of being a maneater had attacked dozens of people, not a single case was reported in which the feline was able to take even a small bite of flesh from its human victims. While the leopard attacked humans and failed to procure food from this means for a duration of three months, there were no reported attacks on livestocks in the villages of Jakholi development block during the same period. This means that most probably the leopard would have starved to death had it restricted its prowling to the Jakholi development block where it was not reported to have succeeded in killing and eating a single human or domesticated animal during a period of three months.

However, a group of hunters deputed by the Government used a goat as bait and shot dead the first leopard which came for the bait, which according to environmentalists is an incorrect and irresponsible method of dealing with a leopard said to have attacked human beings, as there is no proof that the animal killed at the bait is the animal responsible for the attacks on humans. While the government deputed hunters were being garlanded by the public for having shot deat a man eater leopard, the very next day saw a 15 year old boy being lifted by a leopard from the cattle shelter from a village in Jakholi.


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