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After 14 leopard deaths, forest dept sends SOS to fill 50% of vacancies

Bijnor: Bijnor district comprising 70% forest area is witnessing an unprecedented rise in man-animal conflict. Fourteen leopards have died since November last year and some of them were killed by villagers. In 2020, at least six humans fell prey to leopard attacks. The only agency that can help curb these conflicts, the forest department, is fighting with just 50% of the staff allotted as the posts are lying vacant for years. In a recent meeting of forest division-level officers at Amangarh Tiger Reserve, Bijnor DFO Anil Kumar Patel raised the issue of staff and other facilities to curb man-animal conflict. 
Talking with us, Patel said, "Earlier, there were around 20 villages in the district, where incidents of man-animal conflict were reported. Now, the entire district has turned into a sensitive area. Leopards have expanded their area. They are thriving in sugarcane fields. Leopard sightings in every nine to 10 villages is common." Given the scenario, the DFO said, "We need sufficient staff to keep a close vigil on sensitive areas. We also don't have elephant and dog squads for patrolling."
These issues were raised at the Global Tiger Forum (GFT) meeting. A team led by GTF's secretary, Dr. Rajesh Gopal, imparted training to the forest officials on how to reduce man-animal conflict. On its part, the forest department is conducting awareness campaigns among villagers to make them aware of the steps they can take to avoid a conflict with the leopard.

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