Thursday, December 26, 2019

Killer leopards trigger need for population control policy

Nimesh Khakhariya | TNN | Dec 4, 2019, 4:03 IST

capRajkot: The increasing number of leopard attacks on people in human habitats has triggered an urgent need for a policy to ‘manage’ the rising population of these wild cats.
From April 2018 to March 2019, there were only three deaths in leopard attacks. According to forest department data, there has been a 400% rise in human deaths between April to December 2019 with the wild cats killing 13 people in districts of Saurashtra, mostly Gir region. In the same period, 49 people have been injured by leopards.
The forest department has received nearly 400 complaints of leopard menace in these nine months from villages of Junagadh, Amreli and Gir-Somnath districts.
Sources said that the National Board for Wildlife (NBW), following rising number of complaints of leopard menace from across the country, is mulling a strategy to ‘control’ their population.
Children and senior citizens, many of whom were sleeping in the open fields or outside their houses, were the most vulnerable to succumb while young and middle-aged survived the attacks with injuries.
HS Singh, wildlife expert and member of NBW, told TOI: “In India, elephants cause highest number of human deaths followed by leopards. There is a discussion on framing a policy to manage the population of the leopard in the country.”
At present, the only remedy is capturing the leopard that kills humans, keep them in enclosure for specific time period and release them.
When contacted, D T Vasavada, chief conservator of forest (wildlife circle) said, “It’s (population control) policy-level decision which has to be taken by the central government, but the issue is of genuine concern and being discussed at length in various meetings.”
According to the rough estimate of forest officials, there are nearly 650 leopards on the prowl in four districts of Gir region while there are close to 1,500 leopards in Gujarat.

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