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Waste drawing leopards to human habitation: Experts

The garbage dumps draw stray animals and the big cats come in search of them, Sanjay Sondhi of Titli Trust said.

dehradun Updated: Feb 26, 2018 21:48 IST
Nihi Sharma
Nihi Sharma
Hindustan Times, Dehradun
Uttarakhand news,Waste,leopards
The mountain state is home to large number of leopards, and the big cats straying into the human habitation, especially rural areas, looking for prey is not unheard of.(HT FILE PHOTO)

Garbage dumps are potential hunting grounds for leopards, an expert has said pointing to the rising human-animal conflict cases in Uttarakhand.

The mountain state is home to large number of leopards, and the big cats straying into the human habitation, especially rural areas, looking for prey is not unheard of. Experts say a primary reason driving the leopards to village is the haphazard garbage disposal on the outskirts.

The garbage dumps draw stray animals and the big cats come in search of them, Sanjay Sondhi of Titli Trust said Monday. “What’s needed therefore is proper management of waste on priority basis.”

“The garbage dumped haphazardly attracts stray animals such as dogs, cows, pigs among others. For the leopards, they are an easy prey. So, the first task is to disallow littering of waste,” Sondhi said. He was speaking at a workshop here.

The local bodies in Uttarakhand are cleaning up their act as they look for better ranking in the Swachh Survekshan Survey, which rates them on the basis of garbage disposal and other initiatives. “But, the villages are still far from removed this system. The mismanagement of garbage also attracts monkeys and wild pigs, which adds to the human-animal conflict,” Sondhi added.

The role of local bodies thus, comes into picture. In addition, the system of power supply should also be strengthened around villages.

Koko Rose, divisional forest officer (DFO) Tehri, where Quick Response Teams (QRTs) were launched on a pilot basis to mitigate man-animal conflict, said, “A girl was injured by a leopard in my division. During investigation, we found out that the washroom was situated at a distance from the house where there was no power supply. Near the washroom, villagers had dumped garbage. These two factors contributed to the attack.”

Uttarakhand forest department is working closely on the lines of Maharashtra. For this, they have created QRTs in two divisions-Tehri and Pauri. The teams are working in close coordination with locals for immediate response.

Later, head of forest force (HoFF) Jai Raj announced that 5 from QRTs will be st up in Uttarakhand. For this, Dehradun and Nainital have been chosen besides some other areas in Kumaon.

Sensitizing kids

Under the pilot project, the officers and participating NGOs are working to sensitise school children. Titled ‘Guldar Ku Dagdiya’ (loosely translated ‘with the leopards’), awareness is created on the precautions to be taken against the big cats. This includes going to school in groups, no to be aggressive and throw stones or sticks when encountering a leopard, not walking alone at night, and avoiding going out in the wee hours.

‘No solution’

Based on a study done by Vidya Athreya, a wildlife expert from Maharashtra, the officers in Uttarakhand said that there’s practically no solution to deal with leopard conflict here. As per DVS Khati, chief wildlife warden, translocation of the leopards will only provide space to other leopards and culling cannot be done unless permitted by CWW. He said co-existence was successful in Maharashtra’s Junnar and adjoining areas of Sanjay Gandhi National Park. And this is also being adopted in Tehri and Pauri.

First Published: Feb 26, 2018 21:48 IST