Leopards, deer family on poachers’ radar in state, reveals RTI
After leopards, the deer family is most threatened in Uttarakhand, revealed an RTI reply from the state forest departmentdehradun Updated: Feb 13, 2018 20:55 IST
After leopards, the deer family is most threatened in Uttarakhand, revealed an RTI reply from the state forest department.
A total of 177 wildlife crime cases related to the deer family — including chital, sambhal, barking deer and swamp deer — were registered across the 35 forest divisions in the state between 2007 and 2015, according to the RTI reply. Leopard was the only more threatened species than the deer family with 227 wildlife crime cases related to the leopards registered during the same period.
Of the 177 wildlife crime cases related to the deer family, 91 were related to chital, 72 related to sambhar, 12 related to barking deer and two cases were related to swamp deer, the reply mentioned.
Officials partially blame the situation on the man-leopard conflict in the hill state. More than 600 people have been killed — an average 50 people per year — and over 3,000 have been injured by leopards since the state formation in 2000. Nowadays, leopards prowling in human habitations are common sights with scientists and experts blaming the shrinking forest area as the reason.
“We understand that the prey base is threatened in forests because of crime as well as increasing population of big cats. We have plans to establish breeding centres for the species (deer),” said Digvijay Singh Khati, the chief wildlife warden.
An Indo-German initiative is also underway that will provide financial assistance to three states in the country, including Uttarakhand, to mitigate the man-animal conflicts.
The last wildlife census in the state was conducted 10 years ago. According to the census, the population of chital or spotted deer was 53,730, Sambhar was 9,533 and barking deer was 10,111.
In 2015, the forest department mooted the idea of establishing breeding centres for deer at Ranikhet and Haridwar. The objective was to breed the deer species and release them into forests to strengthen the prey base. However, a Central Zoo Authority guideline said that purpose of the breeding centres is “to conserve endangered species”.
“We should first have actual figures of the prey base to establish the issue. Naturally, strengthening the prey base could be of great help to mitigate leopard conflict,” said AK Singh, the team leader of Terai Arch Landscape World Wide Fund.
Meanwhile, approval for the breeding centres is awaited from the ministry of environment, forest and climate change (MoEFCC).