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Posted at: Jun 10, 2015, 12:35 AM; last updated: Jun 9, 2015, 11:35 PM (IST)ON THE PROWL

Learn to outwit leopard: Forest Dept

Relief money

  • The Forest Department is planning a fund to facilitate immediate disbursal of the relief money in case of a leopard attack. Though a major hike had been made last year by raising the compensation in case of death due to attack from Rs 75,000 to Rs 1 lakh, grievous injury from Rs 33,000 to Rs 75,000 and in case of simple injury from Rs 5,000 to Rs 10,000.
Learn to outwit leopard: Forest Dept

Pratibha Chauhan

Tribune News Service

Shimla, June 9

Armed with the leopard conflict mapping of the state, the Forest Department plans to embark on a major awareness campaign in schools, mahila mandals, gram panchayats and other organisations.

Tips will be given on how to avoid chances of a man-animal conflict.

Officials have already started the awareness campaign in some of the schools in the city. Apart from providing information through pamphlets and posters, children are being told how to avoid and react on seeing a leopard. Similarly, all schools in the state will be covered.

The process of leopard conflict mapping undertaken all over the state is nearing completion. The common boundary of the three districts of Hamirpur, Bilaspur and Mandi has indicated the highest cases of conflict, although it is yet to be ascertained if the population of the leopards in this region too is correspondingly high.

The process of estimation of the leopard population in the state is yet to be undertaken ever since the exercise was undertaken in 2004 when their number was estimated to be around 785.

“The conflict mapping has indicated that a majority of the attacks have taken place between 6 and 9 pm, so people can be educated to avoid venturing out or take necessary precautions while stepping out during these hours,” said Satpal Dhiman, DFO. He added that a comparative study of the high and low conflict areas would be done to see the reasons for the conflict.

Depending on the outcome of the comparative studies and the reasons for conflict, the Wild Life Wing will take some steps to tackle the problem. This will include monitoring the movement of the animal and studying its behaviour pattern to see why it was attacking human beings. The government has already associated Dr Vidya Athreya, a Mumbai-based biologist working on leopards to undertake studies.

To be able to undertake the task of a scientific leopard survey, the wing will be requiring more trap cameras as so far there are only 200 all over the state. Moreover, a majority of these trap cameras are installed within the national parks and the sanctuaries, though there are 10 in and around Shimla.

There have been a total of 362 attacks by leopards since 2004 in the state. Thirtyone deaths, 94 grievous injuries and 237 simple injuries were reported. The state government has disbursed a sum of Rs 72.21 lakh as compensation to the affected persons.

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