Kupwara sees rapid rise in human-animal conflict, locals worried

North Kashmir’s Kupwara district has seen a rapid increase in the human-animal conflict with serious concerns growing among the residents about their safety at a time when harvest season is nearing a peak.Kupwara, a border district, has been reporting increasing numbers of incidents of wild animal attacks in areas like Langate, Mawer, Hyhama, Trehgam, and a few others.In these incidents, either the individuals lost their lives or were injured. Even in some cases, some individuals were also left severely injured for their lives.Talking to the news agency—Kashmir News Observer (KNO), the concerned residents said that they fear for their safety with an increasing number of animal attacks and bears in particular.They said that bears were mostly sighted by residents living close to forest areas or while going out for agricultural or harvest activities.Liyaqat Ahmad a resident of Langate belt said that people are scared of regular sightings of bears in the area. “It has created a huge amount of fear among residents who fear for their lives. Regular attacks have pushed everyone to back foot,” he said.Ishtiyak Ahmad another resident while expressing scare said that after sighting black bears in the area they have also seen brown bears in forest areas in groups thus leading to fear among locals.Nasir Ahmad, a Hyhama resident said that areas like Pathpora, Sohipora, Sulkoot, Kulpora, and other adjoining areas regularly complained about sightings of bear and leopard in these areas.He said that an elderly was also injured in a bear attack recently.Abrar Ahmad, another Kupwara resident, said that as a precautionary measure, the authorities need to set up a wildlife sanctuary or identify a particular area in the district to ensure the safety of all. “Once any wild animal is rescued from civilian areas they shouldn’t be released in any open forest. A wildlife sanctuary or some specific area with restricted movement of animals must be developed to maximize the damage and scare,” he said.Citing an example, he said that Limber and Lachipora are prime examples of such safety measures for the civilian population. “Something in their pattern must be developed in Kupwara district at the earliest as a precautionary measure.”Meanwhile, a senior Wildlife Department employee, while acknowledging the facts, said that people also need to take appropriate precautionary measures to ensure their safety. “Bear is attracted by dry crops, they rush towards it after failing to avail food in the woods. People visiting their fields and kitchen gardens need to be extra cautious and at least bang the fencing before entering,” he said.He also said that mainly those who go closer to bear or try some move come under their attack.The official also said that Kupwara district has a presence of brown bears as well. The official further said that the department has equipped them with the latest guns to tranquilize wild animals entering civilian areas.The residents have urged the concerned authorities to implement measures such as the installation of bear-resistant trash containers and proper management of wildlife corridors can go a long way in mitigating human-bear conflicts

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