Introduction to Blog

I launched the website and the Blog after having spoken to government officials, political analysts and security experts specializing in South Asian affairs from three continents. The feedback was uniformly consistent. The bottom line is that when Kashmiris are suffering and the world has its own set of priorities, we need to find ways to help each other. We must be realistic, go beyond polemics and demagoguery, and propose innovative ideas that will bring peace, justice and prosperity in all of Jammu and Kashmir.

The author had two reasons to create this blog. First, it was to address the question that was being asked repeatedly, especially, by journalists and other observers in the U.S., U.K., and Canada, inquiring whether the Kashmiri society was concerned about social, cultural and environmental challenges in the valley given that only political upheaval and violence were reported or highlighted by media.

Second, the author has covered the entire spectrum of societal issues and challenges facing Kashmiri people over an 8-year period with the exception of politics given that politics gets all the exposure at the expense of REAL CHALLENGES that will likely result in irreversible degradation in the quality of life and the standard of living for future generations of Kashmiris to come.

The author stopped adding additional material to the Blog once it was felt that most, if not all, concerns, challenges and issues facing the Kashmiri society are cataloged in the Blog. There are over 1900 entries in the Blog and most commentaries include short biographical sketches of authors to bring readers close to the essence of Kashmir. Unfortunately, the 8-year assessment also indicates that neither Kashmiri civil society, nor intellectuals or political leadership have any inclination or enthusiasm in pursuing issues that do not coincide with their vested political agendas. What it means for the future of Kashmiri children and their children is unfathomable. But the evidence is all laid out.

This Blog is a reality check on Kashmir. It is a historical record of how Kashmir lost its way.

Vijay Sazawal, Ph.D.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Shrinking Space for Wild Animals

An article in a Srinagar local newspaper places the blame for man-animal conflict on everything (including border fencing), but not on the two main reasons - shrinking forests and rapid urbanization

Man - Animal Conflict in Kashmir

The man - animal conflict in the valley of Kashmir has reached a point where conflict is leaving more casualties than before and has become a matter of concern for the people living this part of the world. Although this type of confrontation is not new to the places girded by the forests but never before had number of beastly attacks and consequent deaths crossed a limited count.

In Tangmarg area of the Baramulla district, four people have been mauled to death by the bears and leopards besides injuring 16 others during this year so far which by any measure is a huge number. Similarly in other parts of the valley more than a dozen persons have fallen prey to the wild beasts who are roaming in the habitations like never before. Just some days back, a gunner killed the man-eater leopard in Verinag area of south Kashmir Anantnag district that had mauled two persons to death and wounded several in the area adjoining the Mir Maidan forests. In man-animal conflict, barring Srinagar city and some townships, entire valley has become a roaming ground for the wild animals and in most of the cases the children bear the fatal brunt of their attacks. It has been observed that during the crop season in the summers and autumn, bears are on the prowl while as leopards do the job round the year. At many places wild life suffers loss as people hound the beast and then kill it to spare from its expected attacks.

J&K Government had created a separate department for not only nurturing the wildlife of our forests but also keep an eye on their movement out side their natural habitat. However, for decades the employees of the Wildlife department had little to do as far as tackling the activities of the wild animals outside their habitat is concerned. But with the shaving of the forest cover over a vast area, the natural habitat of these beastly animals got disturbed and they have no option but to roam around in the human habitations leading to man- animal conflict. It has been seen that so far the success rate of the Wildlife officials in capturing the stray beasts has been dismally low which has left the people at the mercy of the roaming and wandering beats.

There is one more reason to this confrontation. Wildlife experts opine that fencing of the line of actual control has disturbed the natural corridor of the wild animals across the dividing line which has sent them into tizzy, consequently they are heading to the human settlements bordering the forests. Not only this, they even come out many miles to the populated area which has so far been not curbed by the Wildlife department. And for the frenzied people who herd these animals out of their areas and mostly end up killing the beast, it is a matter of life and death. At some places people were implicated in cases of killing the wildlife without reason and rhyme. Government must pay immediate attention to the growing menace of wild animal entering the populated areas and harming humans and the crops. It must take the Wildlife department to the task for its negligence in handling the matter in such a way so that both human beings and wild animals remain safe. We already have a depleting wildlife resource and if it is left to roam around in populated areas only to kill and injure people and be killed by them in reciprocity, then the time is not far away when we will have no rich biodiversity here in the forests of valley.

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