Not uncommon is the news these days that panthers are being seen near Udaipur city and neighboring areas. It would be relevant to know why they enter the cities and human habitations in rural areas. One reason is that the number of carnivorous animals like rozda, sambhar, langur, wild boar, and the hare is dwindling fast. These are the animals that the panther feeds on. This food chain has been disturbed. No wonder hungry panthers visit urban areas in search of food and attack small animals there. Another problem is the scarcity of water resources for animals in the forest. Increasing human population, rapid urbanization, and encroachment on forest land have led to the fight between man and beast. Forests are being destroyed for human habitation. Roads are being built through jungles and traffic on the road disturbs the peace and harmony of the animals. The rivers are drying up and living space for animals is fast decreasing.
It is said that the old Mewar state days were very good for the panther. The animal was present in large numbers then and their safety was always kept in view. Special arrangements were made in summer for the availability of water for them. There was proper administrative control on hunting and the provision of punishment for hunters.
It is said that in 1955, the govt. auctioned the muzzleloader guns of Mewar’s military to anyone who was interested. Most of the guns were purchased by the tribals. About five thousand of these guns were purchased by the tribals of Panarwa. The jungles of Panarwa, the densest forest of the region, were full of wild animals. Within a short period, a huge number of animals of this impenetrable jungle were killed including tigers. Some injured tigers became man-eaters. The commercial poaching and the arming of the populace with weapons after independence led to the uncontrolled massacre of animals until much later in 1972 when the Wildlife Protection Act came into force.
According to veterinary doctors, one reason for the increasing number of deaths of panthers in Mewar is that their immunity has decreased and they are more likely to be infected as they become weak in the absence of food. They have to starve for food for days together. Some of them die due to shock as their lungs and other parts of the body get infected easily.
Yet another factor that has been the cause of the dwindling number of panthers is the merciless killing of panthers by villagers in different parts of Mewar as revenge for the death of their kith and kin by the panthers.
In some cases, panthers are killed as different parts of their body are used for medicinal purposes.
In some parts of Rajsamand district, there is a good number of panthers, hyenas, etc. The area is a big center of the marble industry and there is the traffic of heavy vehicles on the road. Quite a few of them are overloaded and driven at a speed between 100 and 130 km per hour and in the absence of radium indicators of warning about the animals, quite a few panthers and other animals get crushed. So there is an urgent need to build ecoducts, underpasses, etc. and putting up fencing on either side of the roads in such areas for the safety of the animals. There should also be road signals for reducing the speed of vehicles.
About the importance of saving panthers, awareness has to be created among the farmers. They have to realize that by preying on animals like langurs, wild boars, blue bulls, deer, antelopes, Indian hare and porcupine that damage crops, the panthers help in controlling their numbers. The panther helps the farmers in saving their crops from damages by ‘neel gai’ as it reduces the number of ‘neel gai’ by feeding on them and even their calves. Thus the animal is a crop friendly one. Since it controls a number of herbivores in the forest and agro-system, it is also an eco-friendly creature. In areas where leopards are wiped out, herbivorous plants can cause damage to crops. Panther rich zones can also attract tourists. Thus animals can open new avenues for earning income in forest and rural areas.

3 thoughts on “PANTHER VS MAN IN MEWAR (Part 1)

  1. A good article on leopards around Udaipur city describing the factual position.More public awareness is needed to handle situations and we have to learn to coexist with leopards and other wildlife

  2. A nice article articulating the forced entry of wilderness in populated areas.

Comments are closed.