SRINAGAR, India (AP) – Against the backdrop of the ongoing deadly struggle in Indian-controlled Kashmir, another conflict is tacitly taking its toll on the people of the Himalayan region: the conflict between humans and wildlife.
According to official figures, at least 67 people have been killed and 940 others injured in wildlife attacks in the famous Kashmir Valley, a vast collection of alpine forests, connected wetlands and waterways known for their idyllic views. as to the decades-long armed conflict between Indian troops and rebels.
The Himalayan black bear is at the root of this disaster. Experts say more than 80% of deaths and killings are due to attacks by black bears.
In August, a black bear attacked Manzur Ahmad Dar on his vegetable farm. He is still recovering from a severe head injury.
Last year, Shoukat Ahmed Hatana, a 50-year-old nomad, was killed while trying to save his younger brother from a black bear attack near their home in the Harvan area on the outskirts of the region̵
Nestled between mountain peaks and plateaus, Kashmir is witnessing a rapid change in the way people use the land. The vast unpeeled fields have been turned into mostly apple orchards. New neighborhoods have sprung up around wetlands and forest areas. Deforestation and climate change have contributed to the trouble.
In turn, experts say, animals are approaching human settlements in search of food and shelter, leading to a sharp increase in attacks.
“And the animals have accepted this change,” said Rashid Nakash, Kashmir’s chief wildlife warden. “And the interesting thing is that they find their food and shelter easily accessible now in orchards and forest foothills, where people have settled.
Naqash said that before that, black bears usually go into hibernation in the winter. “But now they are active even in deep, harsh winters and walk all year round,” he said.
The conflict has also intensified as the wildlife population has increased as animal poaching has almost stopped due to the tense security situation and the presence of Indian troops in the forest areas. The bears have easy access to food from the kitchen waste from the camps of the armed forces.
The animals have also found their habitat smashed in the mountainous region, which is crossed by thousands of miles (sick wires) and patrolled by tens of thousands of Indian troops.