The Environment ministry guidelines to check rising leopard-human conflict released on Monday may fall short of the desired result.
Wildlife protection is a state subject and there is no incentive from the ministry’s to implement its guidelines. It fails to deal with issues of shortage of forest staff at the field level and providing money to implement the guidelines as done in case of tigers.
Environment minister Jairam Ramesh announced to increase ex-gratia in case of a death of a person from Rs one lakh to Rs two lakh but it is not linked with implementing the guidelines. “The increase is for deaths of a human in conflict with any wild animal,” Ramesh said, while releasing the guidelines.
In the last decade, leopard conflict had reached serious levels with 560 cases of leopard attack in Uttarakhand and 240 in Maharashtra. In Himachal, 133 incidents have been reported in the last three years.
While there is no official estimate of leopard population in India, there number is estimated to be around 10,000. “Their number is steadily rising despite increase in leopard poaching. They are facing problem of adaptation,” Ramesh said.
According to guidelines, "awareness generation" amongst local communities, media, and officials of various government departments is vital to educate the various stakeholders regarding the various aspects of the issue.
"It will build confidence and pave the way for cooperation between various departments like police, revenue, and forest, in addition to local communities, while addressing conflict situations," the minister said.
The second important component is establishing trained teams to handle conflict emergencies. Two levels of teams, the Primary Response (PR) Team and the Emergency Response (ER) Team have been suggested.
The third component of the guidelines underscore the use of latest technology and scientific know-how to improve efficacy of capture, handling, care, and translocation (if necessary) of the animal, and to design locale specific mitigation measures.
“It is hoped that affected states will draw on these guidelines to design situation-specific mitigation measures to deal with the complex issue of man-leopard conflict,” Ramesh said.