DEHRADUN: Leopard has emerged as the main component of human-animal conflict in Uttarakhand with most deaths attributed to the big cats.
A total of 402 people died between the years 2001 and 2019 in conflict with leopards while 46 lives were lost due to conflict with tiger.
Commenting on the issue, cheif conservator of forest said, "Leopard is not as shy as the tiger and number of leopards is also much larger than tigers in the state. There are multiple factors affecting human-animal conflict. Conservation efforts have seen rise in numbers and anthropogenic activities has become more prolific than ever."
The official also added that measures are put in place to reduce the conflict which include the involvement of local communities and sensitization of people in general."
Similarly, 148 humans died due to clashes with elephants and 114 died due to snake bites in the same duration. Deaths of 54 people were also recorded due to confrontation with bears.
Human-animal conflicts claimed 58 lives in the year 2019, according to data of the state forest department.
In the year 2017, 39 were killed and 249 were injured while in the year 2016, total deaths in human wildlife conflict stood 66 and 367 were injured.
Interestingly, in the year 2019, the highest number of deaths (19) were caused by snakebite, followed by confrontations with leopard (18), elephant (12), bear (4), tiger (3), wild pig (1), and crocodile (1).
AG Ansari, Ramnagar based wildlife enthusiast and conservationist said, "The conflict in the state like Uttarakhand is not new but in present era anthropogenic interference has been putting pressure on wildlife. Shrinking habitat and increasing numbers have pushed the wild to venture into human settlements leading to conflict."
Earlier, with almost no human-animal conflict during complete lockdown period of over 70 days starting in March this year, conservation enthusiasts, wildlife experts and activists pointed out that the evidence is 'overwhelming' that the movement of people in forest areas has a lot to do with leopard- human conflict.
They also added that any future mitigation measures by government agencies must factor this into account when planning mitigation strategies for leopard-human conflict in the state.