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Sunday, August 5

Kerala Forest Department issues new set of guidelines to rescue wild animals straying into populated areas

Finding no respite for the ill- fate of the wild animals straying into populated areas, Kerala forest department has issued a renewed set of guidelines to its officials, expressing concern over the unscientific way in which wild animals are handled and treated in the state.

The circular urges the officials to make sure that the animals are captured in scientific ways. It also urges the officials to make sure that it is not infected with any diseases and to make sure that they are released to the exact natural habitat.

Increasing animal deaths

The new circular was issued in the back drop of increasing incidents in which mobs kill wild animals that have straying into populated areas. According to unofficial estimates, at least four leopards succumbed to their wounds inflicted by the mob during the last three months in different parts of Kerala when the animals were spotted in human populated areas. 

The new guidelines points out that, experts can be deployed to catch certain types of animals, but in all instances a veterinary expert should be present and it should be certified that the animal is healthy before setting it free to its natural habitat. Though such instances are less reported from the state, the circular also urges the officials to stick to National Tiger Conservation Authority guidelines, if the straying animal is a tiger.

The real issues still untouched

It is the recent animal deaths that made the department to emphasis the existing guidelines by polishing it up. However, the guidelines largely ignores many of the recurring issues which causes mammals straying into populated areas die before or soon after they are rescued, in some cases after attacking at least some local people.

Such incidents often involve a lot of fear -on both sides – among the public and in the animal. In this scenario, large scale conflict occur, often the mob pelting stones at the animal, using sharpened objects to injure it than trying to catch it in a cage. The scared animal also attacks onlookers who are closer. In short, by the time the forest authorities capture the animal, it will be half dead and it has become a routine that such animals succumb to their wounds in hours.
new guidelines from Kerala Forest Department, rescuing wild animals, handling wild animals, leopard deaths in kerala
New guidelines issued by Kerala Forest Department
 for handling and rescuing wild animals 

Though the new guidelines emphasis on the need to stick to scientific method, it does not carry any instruction on how to avoid the injuries inflicted on the animal. In fact, there is an urgent need to systematize the mob control in case of animal wandering into human inhabited areas. It will considerably reduce the chances of animal death by mob attack and the animal attacking the public.

Faster response time and timely availability of efficient equipment like tranquilizers or cages are other factors which affect the successful implementation of these guidelines. Apart from that, there is a need to create more awareness to the public about not attacking the animals to cause injuries on both sides. Forest staff should also be trained to handle such incidents of emergency.

Unless such changes are made, wild animals accidently reaching inhabited areas in the state will have the same fate. 

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