bear cubsTawny Leopards straying into villages, black bears being burnt alive by locals, and the only Red deer found in India, strewn amongst a high conflict zone: it’s all in one state, and Wildlife SOS is helping out.

The State Wildlife Advisory Board for Wildlife of Jammu & Kashmir met for the first time yesterday under the Chairmanship of Chief Minister Omar Abdullah in Jammu to discuss critical wildlife issues: such as the increasing man-wildlife conflict and the serious issue of conservation in one of the most conflict torn states of India. Wildlife SOS has been nominated as a member of the State Advisory Board, with the intention of finding do-able, long term solutions. Chief Minister Omar Abdullah chaired the marathon two hour long meeting and took several positive on the spot decisions during the meeting to the pleasant surprise of those present.

The meeting was attended by key dignitaries, officials from the Government of J & K, Indian Army, Tourism Department, Department of Forests, Department of Wildlife Protection and several other agencies and departments involved in protection and conservation of the state’s wildlife, including Wildlife SOS represented at the meeting by Kartick Satyanarayan, Co founder.

“Chief Minister Omar Abdullah is clearly concerned about the plight of wild animals being tortured and killed by locals when they stray into villages. At the same time he is also extremely concerned about the safety of the people and attack victims. He is definitely committed to making an effective and balanced impact to help the people and wildlife of the state said Kartick Satyanarayan

From a playful, apple-consuming 10 month Black bear cub to a 2 year old fish-eating adult Asiatic Black bear, Wildlife SOS plays foster parent to six Black bears in the Dachigam and Pehelgam bear rehabilitation centres. Wildlife SOS has been running the bear orphanage for the past two years in collaboration with the Department of Wildlife Protection, Govt. of Jammu & Kashmir. Backing the need to find long term solutions for landscape level man-animal conflict, we are also conducting two research programs in the state with a specific focus on conflict between people and animals.

In addition to the burning issue of man animal conflict, the Board also examined and reviewed various development projects awaiting clearance from the Forest Department that involved use or diversion of forest land, permissions for roads near forest areas.

Recommendations submitted by Wildlife SOS in studies carried out with the Department of Wildlife Protection include awareness for sensitizing people to increase tolerance and coexistence with bears and leopards. Speedy compensation to bear and leopard attack victims for both attacks as well damage to property / fruit orchards need to be strategically worked out.

The meeting was concluded with a decision to create a special committee to identify critical wildlife habitats outside protected areas as well as a special board to carry out environmental impact assessment for developmental projects.