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Deforestation drives wild animals into cities
Dharmendra Joshi
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, December 15
Deforestation in the lower Shivalik Hills in Hoshiarpur and Una districts on the Punjab and Himachal Pradesh border has forced several wild animals to stray into cities of Punjab in the chill.

Over 25 sambars have already been caught from different parts of Jalandhar, Kapurthala, Nawanshahr and Ludhiana in the past two weeks and sent to Takhni Sanctuary in Hoshiarpur. Besides, a deadly wild animal, suspected to be a panther from its pug marks, had attacked a person at Pholriwal village of Jalandhar district on November 26, but it could not be caught despite a special operation carried out by the Forest Department officials.

Wild animals have been straying into cities from Mehangrowal, Chak Sadhum Chohal, Manguwal and Dholwaha villages located in Hoshiarpur and Una districts on Punjab and Himachal Pradesh every winter for the past five years, said Jalandhar divisional forests officer (DFO) Satnam Singh who looks after three Doaba districts of Jalandhar, Kapurthala and Nawanshahr with the additional charge of Ludhiana district.

The number of the straying wild animals into Punjab cities had increased a lot this winter, he said, adding that reports of sighting at least two wild animals were received every day from the four districts making it difficult to catch them for the ill-equipped Forest Departments already facing an acute shortage of staff.

Interestingly, six sambars were caught from different areas of Jalandhar, including Aadampur, Dhogri and Goraya, on a single day, on December 14. They had also been found on different dates in Samrala, Jagraon of Ludhiana district, thickly populated Ekta Nagar of Jalandhar city and Khajrula village of Kapurthala.

While DFO Satnam Singh denied deforestation in the lower hills as one of the main reasons of the straying of wild animals into the cities, highly placed sources confirmed that human population increasing day by day had resulted in deforestation and reduction in the natural habitat for wild animals.

Interestingly, Satnam Singh attributed the increase in the straying incidents to the increase in the population of wild animals. The posts of DFO had been created in Pathankot, Hoshiarpur and Ropar districts a few years back, he said, adding that they along with wildlife guards kept making rounds of their areas to check the hunting of wildlife animals. That is why their population had increased, he added. Further sources said afforestation, check on deforestation and fencing on possible places around the lower Shivalik Hills might minimise the incidents of straying of wild animals into cities. Satnam Singh said he would take up the matter with Chief Wildlife Warden M.P. Rai to discuss possible steps to reduce straying incidents.

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