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Man-animal conflict: after leopard killed girl, now bear mauls man in Budgam; drones pressed in to nab man-eater big cat

A fortnight after a little girl was killed in a leopard attack, now a man has been mauled to death by a bear in the forests of Jammu and Kashmir’s Budgam district.

Officials said the man was grazing cattle in Ladermad forests when he was attacked by the animal.

“The bear mauled him to death. The victim has been identified as Mohammad Ramzan of Surasyar village in Chadoora tehsil of Budgam district,” officials said.

Incidents of man-animal conflict have increased in Kashmir during the last decade.

This is attributed to mindless encroachment of natural habitats of wild animals and because of competition for food and space.

Experts believe that most of these encounters occur in areas that were part of the natural habitat of wild animals and have come under the occupation of man during construction or for agricultural purposes.

Two weeks back, a girl child was killed by a leopard in the Humhama area of Budgam district. The area had been part of a Karewa with dense vegetation a few years before residential houses came up there.

Meanwhile, the hunt for the wanted man-eater leopard in the district is turning out to be one of the most challenging task for the wildlife department who pressed in drones to track the movement of wild animal on Saturday last week.

Officials of the wildlife department said that at least 60 officials from the wildlife department, forest protection force and other relevant departments are camping in Ompora for the past 12 days to track and catch the leopard who mauled a four-year-old girl to death.

“This time, the hunt for leopard is turning a major challenge for us. But tracking the animal is not impossible,” WildLife Veterinarian, Dr Umar Nazir said.

Dr Umar has been camping in Ompora and is supervising the hunt for man-eater leopard.

He said that 60 officials of wildlife and other concerned departments are camping in small teams at various locations using all means to trace the leopard.

“We have identified ten hot-spots where there is a possibility the leopard may come. Special traps and cages have been set up to catch the animal. Officials are carrying tranquilizers and other weapons to deal with the animal,” Dr Umar said.

He said the wildlife department with the active support of forest protection force personnel and other experts, pressed in drones to trace the possible track being used by the wanted leopard.

“The process is becoming time-consuming given the fact that nursery is very dense due to plantations. But the forest department has started pruning and cutting of trees which will ultimately help us locate the leopard,” he said.

Asked whether it is turning out to be the most difficult case for the wildlife department, Dr Umar said: “The hunt for the wild animal is turning out to be challenging given the dense forest cover of the nursery. Maybe in the next 10 to 15 days, we will be able to catch the animal.”

The killing of a girl on June 3 triggered a wave of panic across the area forcing the wildlife and forest department to issue an advisory asking people of the area not to allow their children to go out of their houses in morning and evening hours.

The advisory had also stressed avoiding keeping pets at homes and disposing of solid waste and kitchen waste in a way that shouldn’t attract stray dogs.

Experts believe that easy availability of food for stray dogs and keeping pets at homes are major attractions for wild animals like leopards and bears to enter into residential areas.

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