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To curb rising man-animal conflicts, Uttarakhand eyes German help

Reports of human encounters with leopards and other wild species such as elephants, wild boar, bear, and monkeys are a regular feature in the mountain state, that is home to several wildlife reserves

jaipur Updated: Feb 02, 2018 21:49 IST
Nihi Sharma
Nihi Sharma
Hindustan Times, Dehradun
Uttarakhand news,man-animal conflict,German experts
Nearly 150 leopards have been declared as man-eaters since the formation of Uttarakhand in 2000.(Representative Picture.)

The Uttarakhand forest department, in collaboration with German experts, would soon devise a new mechanism to mitigate the rising cases of man-animal conflict. In this regard, officials from the department will meet the German representatives in New Delhi on February 5.

Reports of human encounters with leopards and other wild species such as elephants, wild boar, bear, and monkeys are a regular feature in the mountain state, that is home to several wildlife reserves.

The seriousness of the menace can be gauged from the fact that big cats have killed over 600 people in the past 17 years — on an average 50 a year —and injured over 3,000 people. The rate of man-animal conflict cases in Uttarakhand is the highest in the country, as per the experts in the know of the things.

Those residing in the vicinity of the forests and reserves bear the brunt of such conflicts.

In October last year, the Union ministry of environment forest and climate change had signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with Germany’s Gesellschaft fur Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) — an agency that works for sustainable economic, ecological, and social development. The objective of the MoU is to protect local communities in human-wildlife conflict areas.

Uttarakhand along with other states like Maharashtra and Karnataka is a part of the project. The state is likely to get an estimated ₹30 crore grant under the project for man-animal conflict mitigation.

“The planning of the project will start after the meeting on February 5. We will discuss the current scenario and will then prepare models to combat this issue,” said Digvijay Singh Khati, Uttarakhand’s chief wildlife warden.

Two years ago, Uttarakhand had adopted the action plan of Maharashtra for leopard conflict mitigation. For this, Rapid Response Teams and Quick Response Teams were constituted in Tehri and Pauri districts.

The project is based on awareness and precaution. Still, reports of conflict incidents keep cropping up with unfailing regularity.

Nearly 150 leopards have been declared man-eater since the state’s formation. Out of these, 35 were killed and 40 captured and released in the wild.

Neeraj Khera, a senior advisor of GIZ, said: “We will also study the current steps taken to tackle conflict and will thereafter, prepare a plan.”

She visited the state last year and has plans to visit again for a solid plan to deal with the situation.

Wildlife Institute of India (WII) is also partnering in the project by providing requisite scientific support to the projects in all officiating states.

First Published: Feb 02, 2018 21:49 IST