SIKKIM WILDLIFE: Villagers wary after wild scare – big cat, bear & boar: visitors in a week – scarcity of food or other disturbances also unnoticed ?!!
FROM THE TELEGRAPH CORRESPONDENT
Gangtok, July 30: The leopard, the bear and wild boars: residents of a West Sikkim village have had a scary week trying to thwart them off from their habitat.
In the first case, however, foresters are not sure if the predator was a leopard, but villagers of Lower Yangtay insist that a big cat had devoured a cow in its shed on the night of July 27, the remains of which were found the next morning.
“We were informed about the incident only yesterday. But we don’t know whether that predator was a leopard, or some other wild animal, as normal evidences like pugmarks were washed away by the rain. The carcass had also been buried by the villagers,” said divisional forest officer (wildlife, West Sikkim) Suraj Thatal.
Yangtey village is near a reserve forest. On the evening of July 28, there were reports from the neighbouring areas of more attacks on cattle by the animal.
The same day a bear was spotted in the forest staff quarters in Geyzing, the district headquarters of West Sikkim 116km from here. The size of the bear could not be ascertained as it was dark, said the DFO. “We have asked the school students not to venture out into the forest while coming back from school and patrolling has been intensified.”
Wildlife authorities said the suspected leopard, which killed the cow, could have transgressed into human settlement because of food scarcity in the forest. The leopard might be injured or has grown old and so depended on easy preys like domesticated animals.
Last year, Himalayan black bears had entered Yangtey and its surrounding areas.
In fact, between September and December last year, at least 70 bear transgressions were reported and some of these turned into a man-animal conflict that led to the death of one of the animals. One bear was also killed in a fierce territorial fight on November 10 at Dokeythang reserved forest near Geyzing.
The DFO said the foresters had visited the village after the first leopard raid to sensitise the people. The leopard is an endangered species and falls under Schedule I of the wildlife protection act. It mainly feeds on barking deer.
West district is also grappling with the problem of wild boars that often enter maize fields in fringe villages. Since early last month there have been several reports from Ripdi, Bareng and Soreng of such wild boar forays. “It looks like the wild boars are particularly fond of maize. We have been trying to push these animals back into the wild,” said the DFO.
The wildlife authorities said an increase in the population of these animals and lack of food in the wild was forcing them to enter the villages.
But foresters hope that a good season for phumpseys or wild avocado this time will stop the wild forays. “Once the plants bear fruits, then both human and wild animals will enjoy the abundance.” Phumpseys are wild fruits popular with both the herbivores and human beings.
He said often people collected these fruits from the forests, creating a scarcity for the wild animals. This time, the produce has been more than last year, he added.