Friday, 1 July 2011


A shepherd poisoned a snow leopard to death in Pindari glacier area of Bageshwar district in Uttarakhand early this season. According to the shepherd,
Shri. Lakshman Singh (Lachham), the snow leopard used to kill his sheep often and since he never received any compensation from the forest department, he decided to kill it. He poisoned one of his killed sheep with NUVAN, an insecticide. The snow leopard visiting the kill later got poisoned and died. The carcass was thrown into the Pinder river, he said. He had no intention of trading the skin or other parts, but just wanted to get rid of the animal.

Sheep are a major prey-base for snow leopards in the alpine and transhimalayas. Though wild Blue sheep or Bharal is the major prey-base, the snow leopards find it convenient to hunt domestic sheep. During a single attack, several sheep in the herd may get killed, though the leopard lifts only one of them. This causes huge loss to the shepherds, who earn their livelihood through this activity alone. Earlier, the shepherds used to rear 1000s of sheep in a herd and losing a few of them was not an issue. But now, with the decrease in number of sheep being taken to the alpine regions for grazing, they cannot afford to lose even a single one. No, wonder he decided to kill it. Legally, one could also call it 'Self Defence' as it was an issue of his own livelihood and life.
Crores of INR are being spent on snow leopard conservation in the Himalayas. However, the project does not provide for compensations to shepherds, who would then would not mind snow leopards preying on their sheep. Whenever a shepherd complains that his 100 sheep died on a single attack, no forest official believes and gives payment for may be only one or two sheep. We should encourage providing adequate compensation to shepherds as their sheep are the major prey-base that could revive snow leopards in this region.
Pindari Glacier and its associate glaciers are the southern most extent of snowleopards, which come to these areas in winters and migrate to the adjacent transhimalayan regions across the Traill's pass during the summers.


  1. livelihood is not covered under "self Defence"... moreover delayed relief does not mean that u take the law in your hand....similar to a situation that..if an offender is not convicted ..doesn't allow anybody to punish him by bypassing legal relief available.......

  2. Delayed relief and lack of proactive nature of officers has motivated the poor shepherd which resulted in the death of the animal. So, the officer/dept. responsible should be punished for abetment too. At least see that such incidences do not happen in future. If you can prosecute this shepherd, go on. But I am sure you will not even be able to get hold of him. Do we want illiterates to 'write' an application for relief, attach photographs and certificates for proof and run from pillar to post to get the payment? And do we expect a shepherd to do that? And why have you not yet provided anything for them under the snow leopard or other projects? Law is just a theoretical solution to democratic malpractises.

  3. There are several pro active officers in the dept. Also, they do not always insist on certificate or photographs, especially from shepherds. The problem is the budget, which on priority is distributed in human death and injury cases by wild animals. You are right that wildlife projects should provide for such cases, and we are actually having some projects in which ex-gratia payment to wild animal attack cases are provided for. Regarding self defence or offence, now that the snow leopard is dead, there is no use pondering over it and trying to apprehend and prosecute the shepherd. Let us try to better the future. May be the shepherd himself will be able to give better practical ideas for conserving snow leopard and other wildlife.