Assam constitutes panel to probe raging man-leopard conflict

From Our Correspondent

Guwahati: With leoprads stalking various residential areas in Guwahati city of late, Assam government has constituted an expert committee to determine the root causes of frequent starying by leopards into human habitat and recommend measures to tackle the problem of raging man-leopard conflict.

At least one person was killed and several others inured due to conflict between human being and straying leopards in the city since January this year while at least four leopards were lynched by the panic-stricken city residents.

Assam Forest Minister Rockybul Hussain informed about the decision to constitute a three-member expert committee headed by Suresh Chand, Principal Chief Conservator of Forest (PCCF).

There have been frequent incidents of leopards straying into human habitat in Guwahati city basically due to shrinking of forest cover in and around the city which has at least 18 hills in and around it where forest cover is at the mercy of invading human population.

Leopard is an endangered species and protected under Schedule I of the Wildlife Protection Act, 1972. Wildlife biologists are of the opinion that it is natural for leopards to come out their habitat after the winter in search of new habitat.

Guwahati has a number of wildlife species including several highly endangered ones in the forest areas in its outskirts and the hills within the city. At least 20 leopards including several cubs have been killed in the city in the past two decades.

The 216-sq km Guwahati city has nearly 26.42 sq km area marked as reserved forests, which have been vastly encroached upon, a senior forest official said.

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