Workshop brings a ray of hope for wildlife
The escalating problem of human/animal conflict in India is being tackled by a Delhi-based NGO with backing from its UK partner charity and in conjunction with India’s wildlife protection department.
With support from International Animal Rescue (IAR), Wildlife SOS of India recently ran the first of several two-day training workshops in collaboration with the Jammu & Kashmir Wildlife Protection Department.
Officers from the Wildlife Department, the Forest Department and the Police received training in the use of tranquillising equipment, trapping methods, crowd control and other techniques at the training centre in Dachigam National Park.
Kashmir has been in the news recently for the brutal killing of black bears and leopards by angry mobs when the animals strayed into local villages. These, and other previous incidents prompted Wildlife SOS to start working with the Jammu & Kashmir Wildlife Department to find a practical solution to the problem.
"This workshop is just the first of a series that we are organising with Wildlife SOS," said Regional Wildlife Warden Shri SFS Gilani. We urgently need to train up our officers so that they have the necessary skills to trap and relocate wildlife that strays into areas of human habitation."
Kartick Satyanarayan, Co-founder of Wildlife SOS, was present at the workshop. He said: "We are delighted to conduct these workshops which will help to address the issue of man/animal conflict by developing the skills of the wildlife department’s officers."
In January this year the brutal killing of a rare black bear was condemned by wildlife lovers throughout India. The harmless bear was first beaten with sticks and stones by the villagers and then burnt to death, allegedly in the presence of some wildlife officials.
Also in January panic-stricken people chased and battered to death two rare leopards in different parts of India, highlighting increasing numbers of endangered wildlife that are killed as rapid economic development destroys habitats. "Sadly, conflicts between humans and animals are becoming all too commonplace the world over," says Alan Knight, CEO of International Animal Rescue. "As human populations grow they require more and more space and destroy the animals’ natural habitat, leaving shrinking pockets of land for wildlife. It is no surprise that wild animals stray into residential areas when their own territory is severely reduced and farms and villages spring up on land that was once dense jungle or forest.
"The responsibility for this situation rests with us. The least we can do is try to save the lives of any animals that come into conflict with humans and find them somewhere safe and suitable to live."
Experts from Wildlife SOS led discussions on translocation, darting, trapping, crowd control and community participation. The Minister of State for Health and Medical Education Pirzada Mohammad Hussain distributed cheques to five victims of Black Bear attacks from Anantnag district at this workshop.