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Bear attack in Himachal village leaves 1 mauled to death, 3 seriously injured




KULLU- Bear attack in Anni region of district Kullu, Himachal Pradesh wreck havoc among villagers on Wednesday. Meanwhile, in another attack, a Nepalese laborer was badly mauled by a bear in Kotgarh.

Reportedly, three bears launched attack on villagers who were out for irrigation work at one of the ‘kuhls.’ Other two managed to escape despite injuries but the third man was not lucky enough to survive this sudden confrontation. He instantly succumbed to deep injuries inflicted on his neck and genitals. The bears also mauled a woman who was engaged in collecting fodder near the location.

The case was reported from Kungash panchayat in Anni region. The villages in Anni area have witnessed increase in confrontation with black bears during last five years. As per reports, at least 3 people were mauled to death in past 4-5 years and many were left with grieve injuries on face, eyes, stomach and legs.

According to eyewitnesses, the bears attacked around 9:00 PM on Wednesday. Hearing the screams of victims, villagers gathered and made loud noise. The bears ran away and the injured were rushed to Anni Hospital with help of police. The forest department was also informed regarding the situation.

The deceased was identified as Jeet Kumar(30), while injured include Nandlal (38), Vinod (21), and Ramila (36).

Previous Attacks

Wildlife experts have established that the Himalayan black bear is a savage animal, sometimes attacking without provocation, and inflicting horrible wounds.

Black bear is more aggressive as compared to brown bear. The bears are more aggressive when accompanied by cubs.

It generally targets the head and face with their claws, while using their teeth also on a prostrate victim.

The confrontation with bears is increasing in Anni region of Kullu, Rampur, and some other regions of upper Shimla.

In October, 2016 a man was mauled to death by a bear in Rampur Tehsil of Shimla district.

In June, 2015 two people were injured in Chargon area of Rohru subdivision in Shimla district after they were attacked by a bear while grazing livestock.

In Nov 2014, two women in Kochdi Village of Rampur subdivision, who were collecting fodder for cows, were attacked in which both women sustained serious injuries

In May, 2015 was attacked by a bear when she was working in her fields at the Bagsh village in Ani sub-division of district kullu leaving her with broken leg and badly mauled face. Prior to that an elderly woman from Porala village under Dharalijan panchayat was attacked and had sccumber to the injuries.

In November 2010 two incidents of bear attacks were reported within 24 hours in which 13-years-old boy and a woman were injured in Dodra-Kawar area of Shimla district and Khadiyar village in Paprola area of Kangra district respectively.

In September 24, 2007, man grazing sheep in Chamba valley’s Choharghatti was mauled in a bear attack. In 2007, too, villagers had reported several attacks and sighting of bears during past few months prior to this incident. The villagers appealed to the government to take measure to ensure safety of villagers. The Wildlife Wing of HP Forest Department isn’t ready to move a muscle, neither equipped with tools to capture wild animals.  It has been reported that forest department doesn’t even provide tranquilizer guns to field workers.  The department is totally blank on technical grounds and incapable of forming any policy or strategy  to prevent man-animal confrontation.

Bear attack on Himachal Treks

In rural areas of Himachal where agriculture and livestock are major occupations of people, it is very a common practice for villagers to head towards forest to collect fodder and wood for domestic use. The extension of cultivating land and increase demand of fodder and wood have major role in bringing wild animals and humans face to face.

Moreover, considering the dwindling population of animals, Himachal Pradesh Government had put a ban on animal killing or hunting in 1984. The population of animals has increased.  The State government need to consider the urgency of the matter and exclude wildlife management from its corrupt culture. The callousness and unscientific attitude of the forest department is exposing more and more people to potential risk due to animals confrontations.

Madan has studied English Literature and Journalism from HP University and lives in Shimla. He is an amateur photographer and has been writing on topics ranging from environmental, socio-economic, development programs, education, eco-tourism, eco-friendly lifestyle and to green technologies for over 9 years now. He has an inclination for all things green, wonderful and loves to live in solitude. When not writing, he can be seen wandering, trying to capture the world around him in his DSLR lens.


Himachal: Report Forest Fires on Toll-Free Numbers 1077 and 1070



helpline for Forest Fires in himachal pradesh

Shimla-Forest fire is a recurrent annual phenomenon in Himachal Pradesh and causes losses worth several crores every year. Dry spell and summers make forests, especially chir pine forests, highly vulnerable to forest fires. These forest fires not only damage the forest wealth but also hit wildlife and biodiversity in general. The forest department attributes most fires to human factors.

Like every year, the forest department has claimed that it is all geared up and ready to combat forest fires this year too. Principal Chief Conservator of Forests Dr. Savita on Monday held a virtual review meeting with Forest Circles on preparedness for forest fires in the state.

She said that the Forest department was well prepared to fight the forest fires and a rapid forest fire fighting force and rapid response teams had been set up at forest division and range levels.

“Approximately 40,000 man-days of fire watchers would be engaged by the department in addition to existing frontline staff for preventing and combating forest fires,” she said. The state disaster control room with toll-free number 1077 at the state level and 1070 at the district level were operational for reporting of the forest fire by the local community, she informed.

Dr. Savita said messages regarding forest fire had been shared with the members of the rapid forest fire fighting force, in which approximately 50,000 volunteers had already been registered. Awareness to the community was also conducted through Nukkar Nataks, songs, speeches and other activities at different locations in the state. Besides, a massive state-level awareness program was also conducted at 45 places from 10 to 17 March 2021

She said that the department had created forest fire lines and did control burning and also constructed water storage structures in the forest areas to combat forest fires. Additional multi-utility vehicles and water loaded tankers in 80 fire-sensitive ranges had been engaged for three months. She that matter regarding Standard Operating Systems (SOPs) for requisition of helicopter services for dousing the forest fires had been sent to the Government for approval. 

Feature Photo: Unsplash@Thematthoward

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Himachal Counts 108,578 Waterbirds of 96 Species This Year With Increase in Habitat



Annual Bird Count in Himachal Pradesh 2021

Shimla-The habitat of migratory and resident water-birds in Himachal Pradesh has gradually improved, said Forest Minister Rakesh Pathania.

The annual water-bird count at Pong Dam Lake Wildlife Sanctuary was conducted in the first of February, 2021 and the exercise was conducted under restrained conditions due to the prevailing Avian Influenza outbreak in Pong Dam Lake as well as the COVID-19 Pandemic, he said.

The exercise was conducted by Wildlife wing of Himachal Pradesh by deploying 57 staff members in 26 sections of the sanctuary for counting the water-dependent birds.

Total 108,578 birds of 96 species were counted during this year. Out of the total number, 101,431 of 51 species are water-dependent migratory birds and 6,433 of 29 species are water-dependent resident birds. As many as 714 birds of 16 other species were also recorded. The total population of the flagship species, Bar-Headed Geese, is 40,570.

The other species which have higher population count during this year are Eurasian Coot (24,163), Northern Pintail (12,702), Common Teal (8,444), Little Cormorant (3,649), Great Cormorant (3,410), Grey Lag Goose (2,297), Northern Shoveler (2,275) and Common Pochard (2,138). The species which find noticeable mention are Red Necked Grebe, Great Bittern, Lesser White-Fronted Goose, Red Crested Pochard, Ferruginous Pochard, Pied Avocet, Northern Lapwing, Peregrine Falcon etc. During the counting exercise, one Bar-headed Goose and one Grey Lag Goose with collars were also spotted.

This year the Annual bird count exercise assumes significance, considering the Avian Influenza outbreak in the Wildlife Sanctuary. Further, the Minister expressed satisfaction over the timely and effective containment measures taken by Wildlife Wing to control and contain Avian Influenza outbreak in the Wildlife Sanctuary.

PCCF (Wildlife) Archana Sharma and CCF Wildlife (North) Dharamshala Upasana Patial also participated and supervised the Annual Water Bird Count.

The total population of birds, as well as number of species, counted this year are marginally less as compared to last year, probably due to the impact of Avian Influenza outbreak which was first reported on 28th December 2020.

Although the total population of water birds declined during the peak of the Avian Influenza outbreak, there is a gradual increase in the total population of birds, the Minister informed.

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Himachal First State to Complete Assessment of Snow Leopard and its Wild Prey



Snow Leopard Population Assessment in Himachal Pradesh

Shimla-The assessment of snow leopard population in Himachal Pradesh has been completed by the state wildlife wing in collaboration with Nature Conservation Foundation (NCF) Bangalore following the protocol aligning with the SPAI (Snow Leopard Population Assessment in India) protocols of the Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change. Himachal Pradesh has become the first state to complete assessment of snow leopard and its wild prey.

The state has an estimated population of up to 73 snow leopards.

It is the first scientifically robust estimate of snow leopards and its prey for the State. Since snow leopard is the state animal, the study assumes great significance for Himachal Pradesh.
The exercise revealed that snow leopard density ranged from 0.08 to 0.37 individuals per 100, with the trans-Himalayan regions of Spiti, Pin valley and upper Kinnaur recording the highest densities, both of the predator and its prey, mainly ibex and blue sheep.

This study covered the entire potential snow leopard habitat of Himachal Pradesh: an area of 26,112, utilising a stratified sampling design. Camera trapping surveys were conducted at 10 sites to representatively sample all the strata i.e. high, low and unknown. The camera trap deployment over the mountainous terrains was led by a team of eight local youth of Kibber village and more than 70 frontline staff of HPFD were trained in this technique as part of the project. Snow leopards were detected at all the 10 sites (Bhaga, Chandra, Bharmour, Kullu, Miyar, Pin, Baspa, Tabo, Hangrang & Spiti) suggesting that snow leopards are found in the entire snow leopard habitat in Himachal Pradesh either as resident individuals of a population or as dispersing individuals navigating through these connecting habitats.

Another revelation from the study is that a bulk of snow leopard occurrence is outside protected areas, reiterating the fact that local communities are the strongest allies for conservation in snow leopard landscapes.

The NCF and wildlife wing collaborated in the effort and it took three years to complete the assessment. MoEFCC had launched the First National Protocol on Snow Leopard Population Assessment in India, on the occasion of International Snow Leopard Day. You can read the complete protocol here.

Snow leopard is the icon of high mountains of Asia. In India, they inhabit the higher Himalayan and TransHimalayan landscape in an altitudinal range between approximately 3,000 m to 5,400 m above MSL, spanning c. 100,000 km2 in the five states of Jammu and Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Sikkim and Arunachal Pradesh. This area contributes to about 5% of the global snow leopard range.

Snow leopards occur over a vast, relatively remote and difficult to access mountainous area. Together with their elusive nature, this makes a complete population census of snow leopards an unfeasible goal. Even their distribution remains unclear. For example, recent surveys show that they do not occur in 25 % of the area that was thought to be their range in the state of Himachal Pradesh Their density is expected to be variable in space, dependent on several factors such as habitat suitability, prey availability, disturbance and connectivity. Variation in density across space also poses the risk of biased sampling, and, indeed, most of the snow leopard population assessments conducted so far across the world are biased towards the best habitats.

Feature Photo: Pexels/Charles Miller

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