A top wildlife research institute will survey growing man-animal conflict including the frequent run-ins with leopards that have killed hundreds of humans and big cats in Uttarakhand over the years.
The survey in Uttarakhand, Jammu and Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh, Sikkim and North Bengal will cover five other wildlife species – snow leopard, black bear, brown bear, wild boar and monkey.
“We will finish selection of research fellows in June and by July we will start the study in the listed states,” said S Sathyakumar, nodal officer and senior scientist at the Wildlife Institute of India which will conduct the survey.
Funded by the Centre, the study comes in the backdrop of a series of human-leopard conflicts leaving several people dead in Uttarakhand. Experts attribute the rising number of incidents to shrinking habitat of the big cats which are endemic to the forests of the Himalayan state.
A 2015 study by the institute reported 50 human deaths every year on an average in leopard attacks. The state was topmost in reporting highest casualties and conflict incidents.
Forest department figures of 2008 recorded 2,335 leopards in the state. A fresh census of the specie is underway.
“Definitely, leopard conflict in Uttarakhand is chronic. Through this study, we will be able to chalk out an action plan to avoid further growth of the problem,” Sathyakumar said.
Conflict with monkeys is also a burning problem in the state and the study will particularly cover the implications and spread of the conflict.
Though the forest department started sterilization of the specie in October 2015 but could operate only 400 individuals.
The institute will also study the severity of snow leopard conflict in Jammu and Kashmir, followed by black bear in Uttarakhand, North Bengal and Sikkim and brown bear in Himachal Pradesh.