On Saturday, television screens were ablaze with visuals of villagers trying to torch a bear alive in south Kashmir’s Kulgam district. Also, a bear had killed a 55-year-old on Thursday in north Kashmir.
While the two incidents occurred in places afar, the common thread was the increasing man-animal conflict in India.
The bear had attacked a house in Mohammadpora, before climbing a tree, on Tuesday.
In the four days the videos taken on mobile phones went viral, it was dubbed as human aggression.
Wildlife warden of Kulgam-Anantnag region, Imtiyaz Ahmad, however, disagreed. “It was not to kill but to scare the bear away. Our staff members saw it running back into the forest safe.”
Records show an increasing trend of man-animal conflict between 1995 and 2009. In south Kashmir alone, wildlife officials said 19 people had lost their lives and over 200 injured in animal attacks in the past two years.
“Last year, 12 people died in bear and leopard attacks,” said Ahmad.
Officials give different reasons for the increasing encounters. “The main reason is conversion of paddy land near forests into orchards, which attract bears. Also, with the ban on shooting animals.