GUWAHATI, June 22 - A civet cat was run over by a reckless driver in front of the State Secretariat here late last night.
The incident highlights the growing plight of wild animals which are still clinging to the sparsely-forested hills in the heart of the city.
The killings of wild animals by humans when they stray into or near human settlements and by speeding vehicles and trains are often being reported from across the State and these factors are known to cause a rising number of wildlife fatalities.
Narrating last night�s incident, Nibir Akash Baruah, a wildlife enthusiast, told The Assam Tribune that the vehicle was at great speed while the poor animal was crossing the road, blinded by the lights. The incident occurred around midnight hours.
Baruah said a few people who gathered at the spot took away the carcass for consumption.
Over the past couple of decades, unabated encroachment on the city�s hills has dealt a heavy blow to the wildlife habitat residing there. With the authorities concerned looking the other way, the once-dense forest cover in the hills is fast getting denuded by expanding human settlements. Conservationists believe that the recent movement for granting of land patta (settlement rights) by various organisations (and the government�s favourable response towards the same) is leading to more pressure on the hills.
The Forest department has so far failed to put in place a rapid action force to rescue wildlife in distress. All the hills in the city barring one have leopard populations, and it is the responsibility of the department and the administration to prevent human interference in these areas, said conservationists here.
According to an official estimate dating back to several years, the total forest cover in the hills was a meagre 13.60 per cent. Today it is bound to be far less given the ongoing encroachment, illegal logging and earth-cutting activities on the hills.