Human-leopard conflict rises in Uttarakhand, over 10 people killed in 2 months
Another maneater leopard was shot dead in Tehri Garhwal district where it had killed two children. It was the fifth maneater to be killed this year.Updated: Oct 14, 2020, 23:04 IST
With the onset of winter, man-leopard conflict is again on the rise in Uttarakhand. In the past two months, over ten people have been killed in leopard attacks across the state.
On Tuesday evening a maneater leopard was shot dead in Tehri Garhwal district where it had killed two children. The spotted big cat was shot by a hunter engaged by the forest department.
Manmohan Bisht, sub-divisional forest officer of Narendra division in the district said that it was a six-year-old male leopard that was shot.
“In a week’s span, the leopard had killed two children and even attacked a group of villagers after which we wrote to the state forest department asking to declare it as a ‘man-eater’. We got permission on Monday after which it was shot late on Tuesday evening,” said Bisht.
He said that the carcass of the leopard was recovered from forests late at night itself and sent for a post-mortem examination on Wednesday morning.
According to the state forest department’s records, 75 leopards have been declared dangerous to human life (or declared as ‘man-eaters’) this year till August. Last year, 55 leopards were declared dangerous to human life.
This year so far, five maneater leopards have been killed by hunters engaged by the state forest department. Last year in October, two maneater leopards were killed in Uttarakhand within one week. A maneater leopard that had killed two children in Pauri, was killed by hunter Azhar Khan. Another hunter, Joy Hukil, shot dead another maneater leopard that created terror in some areas of Pithoragarh district. The leopard had killed a woman in Pithoragarh’s Papdeo village on September 3 last year.
The conflict between leopards and people in the hills in Uttarakhand has been a major problem, especially during winter months when such attacks increase. According to experts the conflict is likely to increase due to rising human and leopard population, habitat interference, presence of easy food like small domestic animals and children, changes in the availability of food in the forests, habitat fragmentation and increasing intrusion of humans into forest areas.
S Sathyakumar, senior scientist from Wildlife Institute of India (WII) Dehradun said in winters it is easier for the leopard to hide as the days are short and light is less, but there is no proven study that leopard attacks increase during winters.
The increasing man-leopard conflict in the state often leads to protests by villagers whenever anyone, especially a child, is killed in a leopard attack. In June 2018, angry villagers in Harinagari area of Bageshwar set a forest on fire after a leopard killed a seven-year-old boy. The boy’s half-eaten body was found in the nearby forest area.