WHAT A SHAME ..... Man Animal Conflict claims another victim. We lost another magnificent Big Cat on Sunday, 03.06.2012. A full grown Leopard that entered Oil India Limited's campus in Duliajan, Assam, was shot dead mercilessly by security forces, after the forest officials failed to tranquilise the agitated animal. The leopard had started causing panic in the populated area, since 6 am in the morning. It had injured 5 people and was hiding behind a slender but thick bamboo bush, right amidst housing lines.
The security forces reached the spot, and along with a frenzied mob of hundreds and thousands of inquisitive people started fishing for the leopard. The forest department was late to arrive, it took them nearly 5 hrs. to reach the spot; then also they arrived without proper amounts of dosage to tranquilise the animal. There was also no trained veterniarian who could fire the tranquiliser shot correctly at the animal. All this led to a series of mishappenings.
Image Courtesy: The Hindu/PTI
After nearly 6 hrs of drama since the morning, the cat and mouse game took a turn, which was waiting to happen. As soon as the tranquiliser was shot at the leopard, people thronged right next to the animal and crowded all around it. Seemingly, the dosage of the tranquiliser dart was also inapropriate and failed to work. The leopard in a confused and panicked state of mind, attacked another 8 people this time, including security personnel. At which point, the security forces lost their calm and fired bulllets indiscriminately at the already half dead animal. Upon which it succumbed to the barrage of gunfire, there and then.
It is indeed shameful, that even after innumerable such instances of man-animal conflict, that have been happening on a daily basis in this country; the forest department across this nation, remains totally ill prepared, ill equipped, and helplessly awkward in tackling these scenarios. It is time, we took stock of man-animal situations across India, and implemented the well established and well known procedures of big cat capture and absolute minimisation of damage to human life.
It is no rocket science; in fact it is simple common sense and execution of ones' responsibility, whether one is a forest official, a security personnel, a media person, or a wildlife professional. You simply evacuate the mob and sanitise the area of people, to minimise chances of the animal charging at civilians; enclose the area with mesh traps if possible; you then tranquilise the animal in the right parts of the body, with the right amount of dosage; and then you release the animal in the wilds after it has recovered. Of course, easier said than done, but there is a dire need for our country to tackle the every day instances of disastrous man-animal conflict in almost all areas which have forests and wildlife near them.
As forest cover shrinks in India and human footprint goes deeper and deeper in to the domains of wild animals, wild animals are not left with any option but to seek refuge in green areas around human habitations. The entire human-wildlife conflict that has been growing across our country in the past decade or so, is essentially, an issue of land. The question that looms large on all of us today, is that do human beings, have a right to indiscriminately infringe on the habitat of the other species that we share this planet with and bring them to the brink of extinction. With our country facing man-animal conflict every single day, we as citizens, governments, and individuals must do our bit, to minimise it and save India’s precious remaining wildlife.