PUNE: The state forest department data have revealed a dip in the number of deaths in man-animal conflict cases in 2018-19, as compared to the same period the previous year.
The highest number was recorded in 2016-17 with 53 deaths. The number went down to 50 in 2017-18. Only 25 deaths have been recorded in 2018-19 till December 2018. The number of deaths is expected to be less even if figures for the last three months, up to March, are included.
As of December 2018, cases of injury caused due to wild animals are 181, a significant decline from 349 in 2017-18. The number was the highest in 2015-16 with 700 injuries in all.
Vivek Khandekar, the chief conservator of forests (Pune circle), said the drop in the number of deaths and injuries in man-animal conflict in the state could not be attributed to any specific reason. “The man-animal conflict that results in injuries and deaths are always caused by chance encounters. It’s never a planned thing as chance is always a matter of probability.”
Khandekar, however, said that the initiatives taken by the forest department could have led to the dip in numbers. “Wherever there is a higher concentration in terms of leopard population, we keep spreading awareness among people. We send out forest department teams to villages telling them about the precautionary measures that need to be taken.”
Vidya Athreya, the biologist at Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS), said she was not surprised by the drop in the number of deaths and injuries in man-animal conflict. “I’m not surprised because the state forest department has undertaken a lot of really good initiatives, particularly in Pune and Mumbai districts. In Mumbai, no deaths were caused by a leopard last year,” he said.
As to the types of wild animals mostly involved in these attacks, Khandekar said, “Some of the main varieties of wild animals involved in these cases are leopards, tigers, crocodiles, alligators and wild boars. Different kinds of canines, like hyenas and wolves, are also the cause of such conflicts.”