Bhopal: The coronavirus lockdown and the resulting silence seems to have triggered a spurt in the attacks on humans by wild animals as they are often found entering the human habitats in and around the forest areas, officials in Madhya Pradesh said on Friday.
Since the lockdown came into force, wild animals, including leopards, tigers and elephants, have killed as many as 13 people in different parts of the state, they said.
"The silence in the adjoining urban areas has apparently given a mistaken sense of expanded territory to the wild animals. They venture out of their territory, sometimes misled by prevailing pin-drop silence due to the lockdown," an official said.
The forest cover of Madhya Pradesh is 77,482.49 sq km, which is 25.14% of the state's total geographical area, a central government report has said.
The last three weeks have marked unusual activity with wild animals increasing found entering the human habitats.
According to the forest officials, tigers and elephants have killed four persons each, while bears and leopards have claimed the lives of two persons each. A wild boar also attacked and killed one person.
All these incidents happened in and around the forest areas in Seoni, Shahdol, Ratlam, Anuppur, Sidhi and other districts.
"Earlier, the wild animals did not venture beyond their territory due to human presence out there. They know the red line that was not to be crossed," Principal Chief Conservator of Forests (Wildlife) said on Friday. "But with no or subdued human presence around, the animals are going beyond their territories. Never ever in the past so many people have been killed by wild animals in such a short span of time."
Shrivastava said this rise in the attacks in and around the wild sanctuaries and forest areas could be attributed to the lockdown and the silence it has created.
With roads and highways deserted, two groups of wild elephants crossed the state borders and walked into MP from Chhattisgarh and killed four persons three in Anuppur and one in Seoni in the last couple days, the forest official said.
The pack of tuskers, who killed three people in Anuppur, were chased back to their home, while efforts are on to drive away the other group of two in Seoni to Chhattisgarh, Shrivastava said. He said right now these two pachyderms are in Mandla district, close to Chhattisgarh.
He confirmed that while elephants from Chhattisgarh killed four persons, nine others were mauled to death by tigers, bears, leopards, and a wild boar.
A leopard killed a nine-year-old tribal girl in Sidhi district when she went to the area under the Sanjay Tiger reserve to collect mahua flowers on Friday morning, in-charge of a nearby police post, PD Sonvanshi, said. Tribals collect and cook mahua flowers and sell them to liquor breweries.
This was for the second time that leopard killed a human in last couple of days.
"In order to avoid human-animal conflict, we are asking people living in and around the forest areas to venture in a group. Thirteen people were killed such attacks. Most of them were alone when they went to collect the flowers," he added.
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