Awareness drive launched to lessen man-animal conflict
Times of India
Times of India
Alarmed over rising number of deaths due to leopard attacks, forest department has launched an awareness drive in areas around Veraval and Sutrapada to minimize human-wildlife conflicts.
In the last 12 months, at least six persons, mostly children, have been mauled to death by leopards. The victims are mostly migrant labourers, who come from Maharashtra and Madhya Pradesh for sugarcane cutting.
There are at least 6,000 migrant families who come and stay in nearly 104 villages of Veraval and Sutrapada talukas, where sugarcane is grown. There are at least 20 leopards stalking the area.
According to officials, the migrants mostly stay in open fields which makes them more vulnerable to attacks by wild animals.
"We have been going to labourers to make them aware about the possible conflict with wildlife where they make their makeshift huts. We tell them to either sleep to inside the huts or create fencing around the huts which may help them ward off the attacks," range forest officer, Veraval range, B V Padsala said.
Also, the staple food of most migrants is fish and its smell attracts the wild cats. "Labour contractors do not provide safe and adequate accommodation to these migrants," a senior forest official said.
Sources said at least 12 people have been killed by wild animals in Amreli and Junagadh district, too, during the last 14 months.