Latif Ahmad was working in his agriculture field when two black bears attacked him. Though, he lost an eye and got his face completely damaged, he was lucky to be alive. The attack was a grim reminder of the deteriorating relationship between humans and animals in Jammu and Kashmir that has resulted in fatal consequences.

The number of animal attacks on humans has increased in recent years. In last 10 years, 200 people have got killed and more than 500 got injured in human animal conflict in different parts of the Valley.

The reason for the rapid rise of tension between humans and animals is the paucity of living space. According to the World Conservation Union (World Park Congress 2003), conflict occurs when wildlife's requirements overlap with those of human population. The destruction of their habitat due to human activities compels the wild animals to enter human settlements in search of food and water leading to conflict.

Wild life warden of Dachigam National Park, Mohamed Sadiq says killing the animal is not the ultimate solution.

"Human population is increasing rapidly. Forest cover has either decreased or declined in quality due to habitat degradation and people in Kashmir have changed their agriculture fields in to apple orchards, which attract black bear.

We have observed that in 80 per cent of the cases of animal attack on humans, bears are involved. They do not eat human flesh, but attack to defend themselves," he said.

He says that the danger of the conflict can be substantially reduced if humans do not do things that incite animals to attack.

Experts say poor knowledge of animal behaviour has also been a major cause conflict. The resolution of the problem can be achieved if people who live near forest arrest areas are made aware of the behavioral pattern of animals.

Giving awareness to the villagers will help in peaceful coexistence between human and wildlife. It will help in creating tolerance towards the wildlife. Education and training activities at different levels, like in schools and colleges will help to avoid conflicts.

Measures that should be taken to avoid conflict

Avoid rearing of pet animals

As rearing of pet animals like dogs in and around our houses can act as an attractant for wild animals, thus people living near forest areas must avoid pets. Unsupervised livestock grazing must also be avoided.

Do not disturb or irritate animals

It has been seen at many places that animals attack when they were being chased away by people. People must avoid such things and immediately contact wildlife department in case of emergency. It has been found that black bears generally do not attack people unless and until: - (1) they feel threatened; (2) it is a sudden encounter, or (3) a female black bear with cubs or with food. Thus if we avoid disturbing animals, chances of conflict are less.

Care must be taken when away from home

As it has been found that most of the attacks by wild animals occur during evening or early morning hours people living near forest areas must avoid leaving homes during these periods of day. If it is necessary they can move in groups as wild animals usually avoid people in groups.

Children must not be allowed to move out of their houses alone as wild animals prefer to attack children.