Monday 4 March 2013

44 leopards, tigers killed in Uttarakhand in 60 Days

Written by Anil Singh

Yes, I have used the world killed, not died. Death happens by natural causes. Someone else kills. And since, leopards and Tigers are the highest predators in Wild food Pyramid, they don't die naturally in that number. 44 deaths in 60 days, points to killings rather death.

And this is Sad. Particularly when the very existence of humans depends on the existence of these top predators (in Hindi "shikari"). This makes the news extremely disturbing.

The most prominent reasons behind the killings of the leopards and tigers in Uttarakhand is the man-Animal Conflict. with the human dwellings fast encroaching on the forest lands, Man-animal conflict are always on an increase. Populist Government measures like giving people more rights in Van Panchayats (This Congress Government's one of the first decisions was giving Women more representation in Van Panchayats)is also increasing man-animal conflict.

The issue needs political Will:

It's often believed that whenever an elephant or a leopard or a tiger is killed, the Forest department and police are not doing their duty properly. Actually this is a wrong belief. As more than the execution thing, the issue is political. And unless there's' political will to save the wildlife, leopards and Tigers in Uttarakhand will continue to be killed.

Let I give you an example. When this Uttarakhand Government came to power; one of the first decisions it took was to give 50 percent representation to women in Uttarakhand Van Panchayats. Van Panchayats basically give forest rights to people in forest areas around their villages. The decision was populist as Congress wanted to gain votes in the Tehri Bypoll. But the decision was bound to increase the man-leopard conflict, as this gave the people a more potent license to venture deep into forests. Although, most these people are doing it for fuel and fodder, but still it doomed the cats (leopards, Tigers etc.), as they became habitual to human contact.

Some of you may argue that these cats are killed by poachers and wildlife smugglers as well. This is not absolutely false as well. As both the revenge killing by humans (for a leopard killing some human or cattle) and commercial killing by Poachers is not done with a bullets. Commoners use poison to kill the leopards, as poison is the safest way to do so. Poachers don't use bullets, as using a bullet makes a hole in the hide (leopard or Tigers fur skin), ans makes it commercially less valuable. That apart, when a poacher kills a leopard, one can never find the carcass (the dead body) of the leopards or tigers, for obvious reasons. Thus,the recovery of carcass, nearly always points to revenge killing by people.

What is the Way out:

Not to drag the article any further, below are the ways to save the leopards and Tigers in Uttarakhand:

1) Education people of Uttarakhand on the Importance of leopards and Tigers to human existence. To save wild-life, people should appreciate and love wildlife. For instance, if there are no tigers, there will be more deer or herbivores and there will be less fodder and fuel for humans. It there are no leopards, Tigers and Forests, there will be no tourism. It has often been seen that, people who depend on forests and Wild-life for fuel & fodder, for their businesses/livelihood (tourism, Adventure, trekking) in Uttarakhand don't actually love & respect wildlife. And Every time an animal inflicts some damage on some human or life-stock or human dwelling, they (the humans) instantly demand the killing of that animal. This attitude can never save the wild-life. It may appear tough, but if humans want to gain from forests, wildlife, they should also be willing to accept some animal misdeed. And this needs to be done, as rather than animals, it's the humans who entered the Animal's habitat first.

2) Rather than acknowledging age old forest rights of people on forests (populist decisions), the Government should look to provide people alternate sources of Fuel of Fodder. 'Green fodder rationing' and Subsidized LPG for the people indulged in Animal husbandry (the practice of keeping Cattle at homes) can be good options. The Government can encourage bio-gas in the areas where the climate complements Bio-gas generation. solar heaters can be encourages in Uttarakhand hills.

3) The Government should make stringent rules for disposal of human bio wastes, both in forest and urban areas, as they can be negative to wild-Life.

It's important to note that unless people love and appreciate the Wildlife and Forests for how they directly (Tourism) and indirectly (human existence) , Wild life and forest can never be preserved. And their preservation is necessary.


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