Children to be tutored on co-existence with leopards
As per official records, 447 children have had encounters with leopards since the state formation till January, of which, over 60 percent have been killed. Leopards have claimed the lives of over 600 people in this period, injuring over 3,000.Updated: Dec 09, 2017 20:34 IST
Dehradun: Uttarakhand forest department is set to exhort government school students on the co-existence with leopards, making them ‘ambassadors’ who will in turn, encourage villagers to take small steps to avert man-animal conflict.
As a part of the pilot project in two blocks of Tehri and Pauri, the department has chosen 10 children from four government schools to become key players in this new venture.
Sanjay Sondhi, wildlife enthusiast who had been working on this project over the last four years and has visited around 80 villages to formulate this plan, said, “Children are to have a sense of belonging. They are to be taught that humans just have to bring about some changes in their lifestyle to avoid conflict with leopards.”
As per official records, 447 children have had encounters with leopards since the state formation till January, of which, over 60 percent have been killed. Leopards have claimed the lives of over 600 people in this period, injuring over 3,000.
“We have prepared a booklet of do’s and don’ts that will act as a guideline for children and they are to ensure its enforcement in their families too,” said Dhananjai Mohan, additional principal chief conservator of forest (APCCF).
These pointers include children not going out alone, accompanying cattle into the forest, avoiding playing alone, etc.
The chosen ambassadors will not only be trained, but will also be given an opportunity to interact with other school students, participate in village panchayat meetings and also actively organise events to spread awareness.
“Despite knowing the measures to be taken to ensure their safety, people tend to avoid it. This project will continue to educate them even if the field staff is unavailable,” added Sondhi.
As per 2008 census, there were over 2,335 leopards in the state, which, according to officers, have swelled at least five times in the last nine years.
First Published: Dec 09, 2017 20:33 IST