How does one live in harmony with bears?
That is the question that the Wildlife SOS-Kashmir team is trying to resolve. Kashmir, situated in the northernmost part of India is not only known for its beautiful landscapes, it is also renowned for its rich biodiversity. This includes the Asiatic black bear, sometimes known as the moon bear.
Although little is known about these bear’s lives in Kashmir, there is a lot of data about the conflict that occurs between these bears and the local people. The conflicts vary and range from problems with crop raiding, destruction of fruit trees and deadly confrontations with local people. The WSOS Kashmir team is focusing their attention on understanding these issues and finding solutions to prevent these conflicts. Aaliya Mir, Program Manager for Kashmir explains, “The conservation of bears in this area is highly dependent on finding ways to minimize these problems.”
One such field visit to understand the problems and discuss solutions recently took place in Varchin, Yarimugan, The village is located in the the foothills and is surrounded by apple orchard that attracts a lot of bears. The team spent the day looking at the damage bears had done to the trees, analyzed the other bear sign and reviewd the access areas the bears were using to come into the area. Speaking with village elders was helpful to understand what historical bear activity there had been in the area.
Using this valuable information, Wildlife SOS will be working with the village heads to find solutions to the problems. It is a collaborative effort by both the communities and Wildlife SOS to find non-lethal means of resolving the problems. “We have chosen just a few villages at this time to determine which deterrents work. Once we have a good model that works, we will expand to other areas.”
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