Increasing Cases Of Leopard-Human Conflicts In Western Uttar Pradesh

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NOIDA: The rescue of a sub-adult male leopard in a village near Meerut by a team of environmentalists has once again thrown up questions about leopard-human conflict in western Uttar Pradesh.


The districts of western UP are synonymous with sugarcane plantations and the adaptable big cats have utilised these tall crops as habitat where they live and breed. Combined with the increasing pressure on forest habitat in Uttar Pradesh, the once rich leopard population in the state is under constant threat.

The sugarcane plantations in the state are ideal habitat for leopards as they provide cover that allows them to remain unseen. Studies have shown that in many cases farmers and leopards use the same path at approximately the same time without the leopard being detected.

There has however been a gloomy increase in the number of incidents in human-leopard conflict in the state, many of them leading to the leopard being killed. In 2011, a leopard that was found in the sugarcane fields in Bahadurpur area of Ghaziabad and was eventually killed by them before environmentalists could intervene. 

As per a report by the Union ministry of environment report In Uttar Pradesh, as many as 22 persons were killed in wild attacks in 2010-11. Meanwhile, the state’s green cover has been staggering for years, despite all the plantation efforts by forest department. The green cover, in the last five years has gone down from 9.26% to 9.01%. In UP, moderately dense forest (which has 40-70% canopy formation) has gone down from 4,563 sq km to 4,559 sq km.

As per experts, this combined with the massive increase in population in the state has directly led to such cases of conflict. As per guidelines released by MoEFF in 2011 related to dealing with leopard-human conflict – the big cats are not usually inclined to attack people, on the contrary, they avoid people.

In a study, wildlife biologist Vidya Athreya and social scientist Sunetro Ghosal found that in the absence of their usual prey, such leopards that exist on the fringes of rural India – especially in sugarcane plantations – survive on a diet of feral dogs, pigs and livestock. The few wild animals they feed on are mongoose, civet cats and rodents.

While a number of farmers in the area feel proud that the leopard lives alongside them, others aren’t so tolerant. “We are forced live alongside these government-owned predators. They thrive in our farms and harm our livestock, yet we can’t attack and kill them,” said Umar Yadav, a farmer in Bahadurpur. “But some do, in the most horrific mob attacks imaginable”

Department officials require crisis and people management training in order to perform their jobs better. Compensation payments should be made less tedious and bureaucratic; it should be linked to effective protection, so that those who take better care of their livestock are rewarded, and support provided to those who lack the resources to adequately protect their animals,” said an environmentalist.

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Panther dies of thirst in Rajasthan heat

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Jaipur: Water scarcity in the intense summer heat of Rajasthanhas caused animals in the wild to stray and led to incidents of animal-human conflicts. The dry water holes in forest have also caused a panther’s death last week.

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The panther’s body was spotted on Tuesday in the Devdungari forest area of Bhilwara district, some 300 kilometre from state capital Jaipur. The animal had died of thirst, officials said.

Environmentalists accused the government of not making adequate arrangements for water, forcing wild animals to stray into human habitats to quench their thirst and hunger, as many recent incidents of animal-human conflicts suggest.

“It seems the panther had died at least five days ago. Some villagers told the authorities when they spotted the body near their village on the edge of the forest,” People for Animals’ state in-charge Babulal Jaju told Indo-Asian News Service (IANS).

He added that the panther had not been killed by poachers, as they usually skin the animal and remove its bones before selling the bodies.

“There were also no signs on the body of a fight between two panthers. The young panther seems to have died of hunger and thirst,” said Mr Jaju.

He said there were several panthers in the Devdungari forests, but the diminishing water holes have made life for wild animals difficult in most state forests. He demanded a thorough investigation into the panther’s death.

In April, a panther had mauled to death a seven-year old girl in Rajsamand. The animal had strayed into her village in search of food and water. Similarly, in March a wild bear mauled to death two men over two days and left at least 10 others injured in Dholpur.

“Several other minor incidents of wild animals attacking humans have been reported in the state in the recent past. It is largely because these animals are straying into nearby villages in search of water and food,” said Mr Jaju.

India‘s desert state boasts of two tiger projects, one bird sanctuary and 25 wildlife sanctuaries. These protected areas offer great eco-tourism opportunities for both domestic and foreign tourists.

“Some of the wildlife reserves and parks are facing an acute water shortage this summer,” Mr Jaju said, and added that the measures taken so far by the state government to augment water supplies were few.

Due to the sweltering heat, many small water reservoirs have dried up while others are on the verge of drying up.

One forest watering project that is yielding results is the channelling of Chambal river waters into the Keoladeo National Park in Rajasthan.

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