Sunday, June 26, 2011

Orchards contribution

Orchards contribute to increase in man animal conflict

The change in the land usage from paddy cultivation to orchards might have benefited the fruit production in the valley; it has however contributed to the increasing man-animal conflict in Kashmir.In addition to several other causes responsible for the upsurge in man-animal conflict over the past few years, the change in the land use pattern happens to be one of them.

“There are many reasons which have led to the increase in man-animal conflict. One of them is the change in the land usage pattern from paddy cultivation to orchards owing to water shortage,” said Intesar Suhail, wildlife warden, Shopian Suhail said that fruits are the most attractive food for the black bear which are responsible for 80 percent of attacks on humans.

“We have young orchards coming up on the fringes of forests. The fresh fruit attract  bears who come to orchards to feed themselves. Also, eating from orchards is much more efforts less for animals than other things which adds to their attraction towards orchards,” said Suhail

He revealed that initially, the owners of orchards would keep the rotten fruits in the orchards in open which would provide food for black bears.

“But now the same rotten fruits is kept safe and sold in the market which fetches food price. So the black bear have the fresh fruits on trees available to them,” says Suhail adding that they also get complaints of damage caused to trees.

Besides the blanket ban on poaching, loss of natural habitat and upcoming residential houses near forest are responsible for the increase in man-animal conflict.

Suhail informed that some years back, a pass would be issued for poaching on bears but after the blanket ban on poaching there has been no check on population and the wildlife is benefited.

“There has been loss of natural habitats to wild animals. And people have started living in their orchards near forest which puts them into danger,” says Suhail

Regarding the leopard attacks it was learnt that some leopard develop man eating tendency, as has been found in many parts of the country, and they are eliminated.

“Leopard attacks  are rare and when such attack takes place, we do analysis of the characteristics of that leopard. Then if needed we eliminate it as per the guidelines of law” adds Suhail

Man animal conflict has claimed six lives in the state in the past two months. Two people were reportedly killed in Doda, two in South and two in North Kashmir as revealed by wildlife department.

Wildlife warden (headquarters) M.A. Parsa said, “People have started living near the forests which is triggering such incidents. This never happened before.”

About the steps being taken by the wildlife department to control the man-animal conflict Suhail said that since they cannot completely control such incidents they ensure immediately control of the situation.

“We ensure that when any such attack takes places, our team reaches there immediately to control the situation. We also provide relief to the victims well,” informs Suhail.

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