Sad high: With 28 leopard deaths, Uttarakhand No 1 in India
Uttarakhand has again topped the chart in reporting highest leopard mortality in the country with seizure of two more leopard skins this month, latest data showeddehradun Updated: Mar 16, 2018 22:23 IST
Uttarakhand has again topped the chart in reporting highest leopard mortality in the country with seizure of two more leopard skins this month, latest data showed.
The data of Wildlife Protection Society of India (WPSI) showed 28 leopard mortality, including 10 skin seizures and two poaching incidents. Maharashtra stood second with 25 deaths.
The Special Task Force of police arrested two people with two leopard skins on March 15. Both accused belongs to Uttarkashi’s Mori area. On March 12, another man was arrested from Uttarkashi district with two leopard hides. Four skins were seized within as many days.
“The Uttarakhand government needs to pull up its socks when it comes to losing the big cats. Where on one side the leopard conflict is severe in the hill state, on the other leopard mortality is equally at all time high,” said Tito Joseph, programme coordinator of WPSI.
Last year also, leopard mortality was highest in the hill state with 101 incidents.
At least 35% of mortality incidents across the country are due to seizure and poaching. This raises a call of concern for Centre as well as state governments. But in Uttarakhand, baby steps are being taken to mitigate this loss.
“We are working in collaboration with Germany to adopt ways of mitigating conflict and achieve coexistence,” said Digvijay Sing Khati, chief wildlife warden of Uttarakhand.
Uttarakhand has been a hot spot for big cat poaching. Officers close to the matter said due to frequent presence of leopards near human habitation, the conflict is increasing and so as the mortality.
Forest statistics stated that nearly 300 people have been killed in leopard attacks since the state’s formation in 2000.
The department, on the lines of Maharashtra, has started working on an action plan wherein Rapid Response Team (RRT) has been established at Tehri and Pauri. These teams work in emergency and aim at sensitising villagers and also rescue the prowling leopards.
“The department is doing few experiments, but they still lack a holistic plan to check conflict and at the same time conserve the species. What’s worse is we don’t even have a solid leopard estimation through which we could identify the spread of the specie and prepare a plan accordingly,” said Dinesh Pandey, a Haridwar-based activist.
The forest department started phase-wise leopard estimation in 2015. But, lack of support and other technical flaws suspended the survey after first phase. The last survey that was done in 2008 reported over 2,600 leopards in the mountain state.