AURANGABAD, Dec 8: The number of people killed in attacks by leopards in Maharashtra more than tripled to 27 in the year 2020 compared to eight such incidents recorded in 2019, a senior Forest department official has said.
At the same time, the number of deaths of leopards also rose compared to the last year, he told PTI.
A total of 172 leopards have died in the state so far this year due to various reasons. This figure stood at 110 last year, the official said.
The rise in deaths of humans as well as leopards indicates growing incidents of conflicts between wild animals and humans.
"A total of 27 people have been killed in attacks by leopards in various parts of Maharashtra till December 3 this year.
"At 12, Nashik district in northern Maharashtra accounts for the highest number of deaths of people in attacks by leopards, followed by Marathwada region which reported seven deaths. Remaining deaths were reported from other parts of Maharashtra," the official said.
When asked about the reasons for the rise in the number of deaths of leopards, he said some of them were killed in road accidents, while some drowned in wells. He said some leopards died due to natural causes while others were killed by poachers.
When contacted, Principal Chief Conservator of Forest Nitin Kakodkar said the population of leopards in the state has gone up exponentially.
"We don't have the exact figures as many leopards are found in sugarcane fields and other areas which are under cultivation," he said.
He said the Maharashtra State Board of Wildlife (MSBW) has decided to form a group to study the causes and circumstances surrounding deaths of leopards and people.
MSBW member Yadav Tarte Patil, who is based in Amravati, has suggested various measures to curb instances of conflicts between humans and leopards.
"At this moment, the state has no plan ready for conservation of leopards but we have a plan for tigers.
Herbivorous animals and water should be made available to leopards in their habitats," he said.
Tarte Patil said leopards living outside forest areas should also be included in conservation efforts and their habitat should be managed systematically.
"To save leopards from unnatural deaths, farmers should be encouraged to cover wells in fields and other small water bodies," he added. - PTI