Over the years, there has been a substantial increase in man-animal conflicts, leading to the loss or injury to the precious life. Also, importantly, the rising incidents of man-animal confrontation allude to disturbances caused in wildlife.
Last week, a 4-year-old girl, Adda, was taken away by leopards from a partially walled kitchen garden of a downtown family living in the shade of a wild nursery, plunging not only the bereaved relations but the entire valley into mourning. Leap of leopards has been seen wandering in the human population in Ompora and other areas of Budgam for quite some time. Earlier this year a leopard was even spotted in Bagh-e-Mehtab area of Srinagar. Also, in January this year, animal organs including eight leopard hides, four musk deer pods and 38 bear gallbladders were found in possession of a man arrested in Anantnag. It points out poaching and calls for the need to strengthen the available means with necessary checks and balances to arrest the threat to the wildlife.
Destruction of forests sends wild animals closer to humans. There were reports when the covid-19 pandemic started that the animals carry virus along with them. The biodiversity in forests harmlessly retains dangerous viruses and other pathogens among a vast pool of wild animals, away from people.
This aspect also underscores the value of maintaining viable ecosystems, and eliminating the entry of the wild animals from entering human surroundings.
There has been reckless exploitation of the environment over the years. Both officials at the helm of affairs and people are responsible. The growing man-animal conflicts serve as a dire warning to all the concerned that there should be no hasty permissions for projects in already enfeebled forests. There is ample evidence that environmental protection confers health protection and forests should be left undisturbed.
If poaching is one aspect of the conservation challenge, the other side of the story is the fast encroachments that threaten to endanger animals and the environment.
There is a need to promote conservation encompassing survival of all as well as diversity of the ecosystem. There is a need to create awareness, as also the action aimed at preventing people from causing disturbances to the wildlife. Also, there is an urgent need for the authorities to sensitise people and also devise foolproof measures to tackle wild animals as and when they venture close to human populations so as to prevent another Adda from falling prey to wild beasts.