By Ahmed Ali Fayyaz
Wildlife warden suspended, private hunters engaged to shoot the man-eaters in Kupwara.
Wildlife authorities have suspended a Divisional Forest Officer over an alarming rise in man-animal conflict after predators killed four children. Private hunters have been engaged to eliminate two predators in the Kupwara district in northern Kashmir.
Minister of Forest and Wildlife Mian Altaf Ahmad told The Hindu that Wildlife Warden Abdul Rauf Zargar had been attached for dereliction of duty on Monday as he had failed to cope with the increasing leopard and bear attacks on people in several villagers. Officials believe that the children, killed in Magam, Pazipora, Rishiwari and Rajwar villages in the last three months, had been mauled by one or two man-eaters.
“We have flashed a high alert, set up control rooms at district level, sought help from the Army, police and Forest Protection Force [FPF\ and even engaged private hunters to neutralise the man-eater. An awareness campaign has been launched through local newspapers and radio stations,” Mr. Ahmad said.
Shuja Haideri, Wildlife Conservator for Kashmir, has been camping in Kupwara since his appointment on Monday.
Mr. Haideri asserted that a chain of encounters between militants and security forces since August along the LoC could be a major factor behind the unusual migration of the leopard and the Himalayan black bear toward the foothill villages. He counted the seasonal return of the Bakerwal herds from the high-altitude pastures as another reason.
“When the leopards don’t get a lamb or dog or when they get scared due to firing and shelling on the ridge, they move to the fringe in search of food. It’s an annual routine but this year’s firing in the border strip is definitely a major reason of their migration,” he said. More....