As many as 124 incidents of domestic livestock being attacked by wild animals, particularly leopards, were reported in human settlements near the two most dense forest areas – Kalesar and Morni Hills – of Haryana in the last one decade. Out of these, 107 were reported in Morni Hills and Pinjore, and rest 17 incidents were reported in the areas near Kalesar National Park. The Kalesar National Park is in Yamunanagar district and shares boundaries with Uttarakhand and Himachal Pradesh. Around two dozen villages are situated around the Kalesar National Park in district Yamunanagar.
Morni Hills in Panhkula is spread over 52,000 acres of forest area touching the boundaries of Himachal Pradesh. It has total 20 village panchyats around it where around 110 small and big hamlets (dhanis) are situated.
Responding to an RTI application by The Indian Express, Haryana Forest and Wildlife Department said that Rs 9.94 lakh was paid as compensation to the owners of livestock between the year 2010 and 2019. Sources said the compensation claims of nine others are under the consideration by the Haryana Wildlife Department.
The livestock animals that were attacked include cows, bulls, buffaloes, calves, goats and sheep.
Sources maintained that the number of these incidents might be higher as 124 incidents were those in which owners were compensated after completing all legal formalities.
The reply states that maximum attacks on the livestock were reported in 2016 (22) and in 2019 (25), respectively. The minimum incidents were reported in 2012 and 2013.
Interestingly, the compensation money was very less till 2013. Since 2014, the state government revised the compensation for domestic animals upwards. Until 2013, compensation for a cow was Rs 800 and later it increased to Rs 12,000. Similarly, the compensation for a buffalo was Rs 15,000 and later it was made double to Rs 30,000.
A state wildlife officer requesting anonymity said, “Leopard, hyena and wolf are three wild animals that mostly attack domestic livestock in our areas. The affected person only gets compensated if it established that the domestic animal was killed by one of these animals. In Haryana, presence of wolves and hyenas is very less compared to leopards. This observation is based on the sighting of animals, pug marks and wild census. Indeed, there are cases when domestic livestock are attacked, killed in the core forest area while grazing. We do not pay compensation in these cases. There are cases of human-wildlife conflicts, but very minimum.”
Principal Chief Conservator of Forest (PCCF), Wildlife, Haryana, Alok Verma, said, “There are various reasons behind such incidents. If a wild animal does not get its prey inside the core forest, it will definitely strike out of its core area. However, entire forest area around Kalesar National Park, Morni Hills is the territory of wild animals. This problem is there in every state having national parks, wildlife sanctuaries. Wild animals usually knowingly, unknowingly entered the human habitation in the search of food. But the humans always intentionally breach the boundaries of wild creatures.”
The compensation price in the case of cow/bull is Rs 12,000, in the case of buffalo is Rs 30,000, in the case of sheep is Rs 3,000 and Rs 3,500 for a goat. Haryana Forest and Wildlife Department has fixed Rs 6,000 for a cow calf and Rs 7,000 for a buffalo calf. In the case of fatal casualty to any adult human in wild animals’ attack, government fixed a compensation of Rs 2 lakh. The amount is Rs 70,000 in the case of minor. Rs 1 lakh is fixed in the case of any disability to an adult and Rs 25,000 in the case of casualty to a minor. Sources said that the compensation money was very less until 2012 when it was revised and increased.
However, staking a compensation claim over the death of livestock is a complicated process. The carcass of the animal is inspected by the veterinary doctor, who performs the postmortem. The spot is visited by an Area Wildlife Inspector, Divisional Forest Officer. If the kill was made inside the forest area, there is no provision for the compensation. The animal must enter human habitation, house, farm courtyard for killing the cattle.
Sources said, “On the basis of inputs of field staff and sighting of leopards, around 40 leopards stay in Morni and Kalesar forest. There are two corridors being used by the predators for roaming in Morni and Kalesar areas. In 2017, a proposal of leopard sanctuary in Morni Hills was made. The proposal was abandoned after the strong opposition of people of 20 panchyats. Indeed, population of leopards is increasing in the forests.”
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