HUBBALLI: Wildlife conservationists fear that increasing incidents of elephants and leopards straying into human areas and the subsequent rescue operations which are conducted in an ad-hoc manner are presenting wild animals in bad light. They say the injuries suffered during the rescue operation in Bengaluru on Sunday could have been avoided.
The Forest Department has failed to put up a good show during many recent wildlife rescues, and Sunday’s was no different. A senior forest officer, who did not wish to be named, said that the attack on wildlife expert Sanjay Gubbi could have been fatal had the leopard attacked his neck instead of his left arm. Gubbi was pulled down by the big cat when he was trying to climb a wall.
Wildlife experts pointed out that the Standard Operating Procedures were not followed during the rescue operation. The crowd management was at its worst, and the incident exposed the lack of preparation by the Forest Department.
A wildlife expert, who did not want to be named, said, “Crowd management is a major hurdle during wildlife rescues. The police teams had no control over the people who were going close to the animal in distress. The attack happened next to the pool and we are not sure if the people who got injured knew swimming. All this could have been avoided.”
“Worst, the foresters were trying to catch the animal with a net which is used to catch cricket and golf balls. The experts and forest officials standing close to the animal had no safety gear. According to the Standard Operating Procedures by the Ministry of Environment and Forests, darting could have been avoided and the animal should have been provided with passage of way after dark,” added another expert, who also did not want to be named.
Wildlife experts say that one can credit it to the conservation efforts in the recent times which has increased the numbers of wild animals, or the habitat destruction that is being cited as the primary reason for animals taking the stray path. Either way there is going to be more such incidents, they say.
Wildlife, Humans Co-existed in B’luru
For centuries, people who lived in and around Bengaluru have co-existed with wild animals. It is only recently that the focus is more on the ‘intrusion’ by the wild cats rather than the actual reasons that are pushing the animals to human habitats. Sample this. A document preserved in the regional office of Indian Council of Historical Research (ICHR) states that Bengaluru and the surrounding areas had cheetahs, tigers, bears and leopards in abundance till the early 1800s. It states that in a year, close to 120 cheetahs, 200 leopards and 100 tigers were hunted in and around Bengaluru. The present urban habitat around Kaadu Malleswara temple was a rich grassland where both cheetahs and black bucks existed.