Friday, 2 September 2011

Nuvan becoming Revenge killing and Poaching poison for Leopards in Uttarakhand

Written by Anil Singh

Is Nuvan being unabatedly used to kill Leopards in Uttarakhand?

Activists who are working in this area, Answer in affirmative.

According to these activists scores of leopards are being killed by Unabated abuse of Nuvan through poaching or in the form of revenge killings by poachers and by people respectively.

This unabated use of Nuvan for poaching and of revenge killing of leopards in Uttarakhand has triggered a protest from wildlife activists who have sought a ban on the sale of the insecticide.

Although Experts believe that, while NGOs and other organizations could raise awareness on the matter, the Uttarakhand Forest Department needs to identify the factors responsible for the worsening situation and address the same.

The forest officials on their part, though acknowledge the rising man-animal conflict as one of the main factors responsible for the increased number of leopard deaths either through poaching or in the form of revenge killings, they find the ban on Nuvan not feasible as it is widely used for agriculture purposes.

Nuvan is being used for Leopard killing both by the poachers and people for two reasons: 1) The animal gets killed without anyone knowing about the killing; no sound, as happens in a gunshot 2) When poison is used, the precious hide (fur coat) of the animal doesn’t get ruined, as in the case of a gunshot (a bullet entry hole) happens; which particularly serves well for the poachers. Notably, this year, authorities have seized at least 30 leopard pelts (hides) from different parts of the State. Most of them are devoid of bullet holes. No wonder poisons like Nuvan are favoured owing to its cheapness and easy availability.

Number of Leopards in Uttarakhand and the extent of threat:

According to estimates, there are over 2,000 leopards in Uttarakhand. With the fats growing population and the natural habitat of the animal being fast encroached by humans; resulting in increased in human-animal conflict, the threat to leopards, main predator in most Uttarakhand forests, is real.

Reasons for the killing of leopards in Uttarakhand:

1) With human habitation encroaching forests, the habitat of the leopards is shrinking; As a result, they unknowingly enter villages for food (killing their domesticated animals). Not limiting to food lure, the leopards also visit human settlements; as many such settlements have cropped up in the traditional routes of the animal, hence the animal easily gets confused and enters into a village or urban area.

2) Poachers are using insecticides to kill leopards as well. On the other hand, leopards resort to killing domestic animals because their natural prey base, comprising deer and birds, has reduced substantially.

What measures the Government can take to conserve the natural predator:

1) First and foremost is to try minimizing the man-animal conflict. To attain this, the government should restrict the movement of people in the forests and strictly implement laws to stop human settlements further encroach on the forests. Although, many foreign countries allow for seasonal entry of locals in protected forests, for fuel and fodder; population of India doesn’t allow for such policies, as people activity can deplete a forest in just one month of free entry.

Hence Government should, give more subsidy on LPG to villagers, who are in a habit of venturing into forests for fuel; out of need or selfishness or unawareness. The recent decision of the central Government, reducing the LPG subsidy can go against the Leopard conservation. It’ll look superficial to some, but rolling out an LPG cylinder for villagers dependent on forests can be effective; if the Government implements strict restriction on forest entry of such beneficiary people.

Another, thing which the state Government can implement is to compensate the villagers adequately, when one of their animals is killed by the leopard. The Government can recruit animal experts to ascertain the reason for the leopard death by personal inspection; and recommend the compensation or filing of criminal report accordingly (criminal report in case of killing by people). That way, people will start reporting their domesticated animal killing, rather than resorting to revenge killing.

To pacify the humans, on the human loss to leopard, the Government should inform the people on the importance of leopard in ecological balance. The Government should also compensate adequately and in a timely manner for such an unfortunate loss.

2) The Government should follow a strict onslaught with regard to containing poachers. Rather than acting on the pleas and requests of local political leaders, with regard to poachers (these poachers and traffickers are often village folk, party to the act for money), the Government should not interfere with the Wild life personnel and other executive departments like Police. If a poacher gets an immediate jail, then he/she should be in jail without any political attempts to save him/her.

3) Judiciary should proactively hear the petitions filed by aware people and conservation activists in this regard.

What is the provision regarding Nuvan under Wildlife Protection in India:

According to Wildlife Protection Society of India (New Delhi), Nuvan is banned. But still people are using it find an alternative.


As a natural predator in most of Uttarakhand forests, leopards are very important to the ecology of Uttarakhand. Although, many people understand this fact, countless others are unaware of it. To emphasize the fact: Uttarakhand can’t even become a tourist hub, if Leopards are not saved; as everything is connected to this glorious predator.

Think before it’s too late.

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