Wildlife experts are to make the first count of the rare leopard population in Indian Kashmir in a bid to conserve the endangered animals, an official said Monday.
"The census will start shortly. I have issued the orders," Kashmir's wildlife chief A.K. Srivastava told AFP, adding that the survey would be cumbersome to carry out and that an environmental group would help.
"The leopard is an endangered species and the census is being carried out to conserve this animal," he said. "We want to find out how we can provide a better habitat to this animal."
There are roughly 500 leopards in Kashmir, Srivastava estimated, but said the figure could be higher since leopard attacks have killed 28 people and wounded 71 others in the past two years.
Locals familiar with extensive forested valleys in the Himalayan state would be interviewed to see why leopards have been seen around civilian areas, he said.
Many environmentalists say a heavily-patrolled fence in Kashmir along a ceasefire line with Pakistan dividing the state has curbed leopard movement and caused them to wander into villages.
Both India and Pakistan claim Kashmir and have fought two of their three wars over it since independence in 1947.
Indian Kashmir is in the grip of an 18-year old insurgency against New Delhi's rule that has so far killed more than 42,000 people by official count.
Last Mod: 27 Ağustos 2007, 23:43