Human-Wildlife Conflict refers to the negative interaction between humans and wildlife that result in losses in terms of life, property or resources.The Jammu and kashmir has been rich in dense forests inhabited by rich wild animals .The wild animals commonly found in the kashmir forests are tiger, leopard, bear, Hangul, Markhor, ibex etc. They have immense ecological and socioeconomic importance. They help in maintaining ecological balance in nature, provide meat, medicines, cloths, hide, ivory and other materials to the industries and factories. Wild life are source of attraction for tourists and nature lovers and boost tourism sector, they are used in experiments and have educational and research values. They are source of income to thousands of people and the government, thus contribute to the state economy. However, for the past one and half decade, Kashmir has been witnessing widespread conflicts between wildlife and human beings. Hundreds of innocent people have lost their lives and thousands have been wounded after falling prey to wild animals especially leopards and wild bears. It is pertinent to mention here that on intervening night of 3rd and 4th June, 2021, the Ompora Budgam 4 years innocent girl (A blooming bud) has been pounced by the leopard in the house premise and later her body was tore to pieces by the leopard in the nearby Nursery. The incident created great fear among the residents and sent chill down the spine across the valley. It crystal clearly speaks the gravity of man animal conflict in the kashmir region. The question is who is responsible for increasing man animal conflicts, what are the factors responsible for it and how to decrease the man animal conflicts so that no family will lose their dears and nears and a peaceful life can be lead. The habitat destruction of wild life by the rising population due to deforestation is the main cause of man animal conflict, an expansion of human settlements in forest lands, shortage of food for wild animals due to unabatted illegal poaching and hunting, conversion of forest land into agriculture land due to shifting cultivation, decrease and even extinction of several drinking water sources of wild animals, increasing forest fires and cultivation and constructions like roads, factories, industries and other projects in forests. As cultivation and construction eat up forest lands and upset the fragile ecological balance, wild animals, such as bears and leopards stray into human settlements in search of food and habitats causing conflicts. Decreasing forest cover as habitats for wild life and the increased vegetation cover, cultivation of maize, apples and other fruits in the plains have changed the habitats and food habits of the wild animals like bears and leopards that have developed a fondness for the fruits and domestic animals respectively. The power transmission lines have further fragmented and degraded the wild life habitats. Absence of effective institutional mechanism, laxity of some wild life and forest officials, lack of implementation of stringent wildlife and forest laws are also adding to the habitat destructions and man animal conflicts. The climate change and global warming are further contributing factors of shifting wild animal towards plain areas besides, lack of awareness and education among the people about wild life importance.
The Man animal conflicts cause number of consequences and most likely Human beings, Livestock/Cattle get killed or injured by wild animals in Man-animal Conflicts, Crop cultivated get damaged and Wild animals also get killed or injured in Man animal conflicts. Man animal coflict can be prevented and controlled by number of ways, the first and foremost way is the conservation and protection of wild life habitats, avoidance of illegal deforestation, shifting cultivation, poaching and hunting.The blanket ban on settlements near the wild life habitats, declaration of ecosensitive wild life areas, strict enforcement of laws and stringent punishment to the illegal hunters, poachers of wild animals is the need of the hour. Moreover, awareness and education among the people about the importance of wild animals in ecological balance in particular and economy in general and involvement of young youth, NGO’S, civil society and religious scholars in preserving and protecting the forests as wild animal habitats. The already settled population near and around wild life areas should be relocated and rehabilitated outside the wildlife sensitive areas. Let’s pledge sincerely not to destroy habitats of wild animals for materialistic gains so that innocent human lives can be saved from predation and ecological balance can be maintained in the nature.
(The author is a teacher at Govt Boys Higher Secondary School Beerwah. Views are his own)