“We put our lives at risk for farming and firewood collection.” Pauri Garhwal’s women write to Uttarakhand CM on wildlife attacks

Women in Pauri Garhwal, Chamoli, and Almora districts have been facing increased wildlife attacks. Lack of healthcare facilities adds to their sufferings as they have to be transported hundreds of kilometres away in critical condition for treatment.

Shivani Gupta
| Updated: January 13th, 2021

Photo: By arrangement

Rural women in Syunsal village of Thalisain tehsil in Pauri Garhwal district, have written to Trivendra Singh Rawat, the chief minister of Uttarakhand, to address the lack of basic healthcare in the affected areas amid increasing human-leopard conflict.

Fifteen women from the village have signed the letter that reads: “… for over a month, the leopard attacks in villages have increased. Most of the victims of conflicts are women. Dozens of our livestock are also affected.” The letter goes on to note that farming and animal husbandry are the main sources of livelihood for the villagers and rural women have to often put their lives at risk and step out for farming and firewood collection.

Rural women have written to the chief minister to address the lack of basic healthcare in the affected areas. Photo: By arrangement

“Unfortunately, when injured, we are not even able to access timely treatment. The hospitals in the region are just for the name’s sake. We were provided with an ambulance in the region but we do not access its services when we need it. We request you to address these problems…,” say the rural women in the letter. 

The letter is expected to be sent to the chief minister’s office tomorrow on January 14. Earlier, 11 women of another affected village Jhimandiya in Pauri wrote to the chief minister highlighting the same problem of growing human-leopard conflict.

Villagers in Jhimandiya, Pauri. Photo: By arrangement

Gaon Connection has raised this issue and reported on it. At least five leopard attacks were recorded in the region in the last one month. Most of the victims of the conflict are rural women, who step out to collect fodder and firewood.

For instance, recently on January 7 morning, 21-year-old Tulsi Devi of Dumdikot village in Pauri Garhwal left her home to collect firewood from the nearby forest. She encountered a leopard and sustained severe injuries on her head, eyes and arms.

Tulsi Devi. Photo: By arrangement

Like Tulsi, Gomti Devi from Gairsain, Chamoli; Anju Devi and Kamla Devi from Syaldey, Almora have also encountered leopards in the past one month on December 5, December 27 and December 30, respectively. 

Villagers claim such incidents are on the rise in Pauri, Almora and Chamoli districts. But basic healthcare facilities are missing. The victims of the human-wildlife encounters have to wait for hours to access basic treatment. They often have to be rushed in critical condition to far-off cities for treatment and tests, such as CT scan and MRI. Apart from hospital bills, they end up spending a huge amount on transport.