This was a monstrous bear attack!
The snarling bear sat inside a Dhok in the Pir Panjals and suddenly it saw a man walking into the precincts which the animal had made its own! Men screaming is not that a man is watching a dancing bear. Life is not a spectacle it can be bloody nasty as this man found out!
By: M S Nazki
Well the bears love strolling around in the Pirpanjals and this is not the first incident that has happened in the kingdom which the fraternity of black bears call it their own. They laze around in groups along with their cubs and in this mood they are dangerous. In fact very because they will attack as this man came to know about. Just before I read about the incident I was discussing with my daughters that so the bears attack. The answer was in a affirmative and the reasons are if they are hungry or the mama bear feels that there is a danger to her cubs. This man were absolutely smashed and battered with the claws and the massive canines and other than screaming they could do precious little. Thank God the bear left otherwise a mincemeat would have been the surefire result. The man who was chosen for the attack must have felt something like this, and there was nothing quite like the surprise attack of a snarling black bear, even one missing all forty-two teeth, to urge someone back to work. Waking up with several hundred mud-encrusted, reeking pounds on top of you your neck suffering a hickey of epic proportions just pushed the limits on what was tolerable. There was a situation for the two, what on earth would they do if the bears came into their Dhok which they had? Why?
Bears have fascinated humans for millennia. As one of the most adaptable and versatile mammals on earth, their behavior stirs fear, awe, wonder, and curiosity in us. Unfortunately, there are still many myths surrounding the lives and behavior of bears that negatively impact our relationships with them. Stories of ferocious attacks by blood-thirsty bears on defenseless humans make great lead stories in the UT J&K media. The overwhelming sense conveyed in these stories is that bears are dangerous, mean creatures that are an extreme threat to people in any circumstance. This, of course, is inaccurate at best and unhelpful at worst.
If you are a wild life lover then let me talk you through about some myths of bears
*Bears are cuddly creatures that resemble the teddy bears we owned as kids. While there is no doubt that bears have the power to trigger children’s imaginations, it is important that the stories we share with our children be based on facts rather than fantasy. It is important to dispel both myths – the one based on fear, and the other based on a misplaced belief that bears are tame cuddly animals.
- Bears are intelligent and resourceful wild mammals that deserve our respect. A greater knowledge of the behavior, ecology and habitat needs of bears is crucial if we are to learn to co-exist peacefully with these magnificent creatures.
- Bears are unpredictable: Bears use body language and vocalizations to show their intentions. Learning about bear behavior can be beneficial to people who live or recreate in bear country.
*Bears can’t run down hill: This is a fable and do not back this fallacy. Bears can run more than 60 kilometers an hour, and they can do it up hills, down hills or along a slope. To put that in perspective, that’s 15 m/sec or 50 ft/sec – more than twice as fast as we can run. In fact, a bear can outrun a racehorse over short distances but has little endurance.
A bear standing on its hind legs is about to charge: This again wrong. Though it is a terrifying sight yet is innocuous. Actually, a bear standing on its hind legs is just trying to better identify what has caught its attention. As I’m sure you’ll agree, it’s much easier to see, hear and smell things from a standing position, than down on all fours.
- Once a bear has tasted human food, he won’t eat wild food any more: Again a wrong idea. Bears prefer natural, wild food unless it is difficult to find and human food is too easy to get. Even bears that regularly eat human food/waste still eat natural foods whenever they’re plentiful. Conflicts usually increase when natural foods run out a good time to be more vigilant of bear attractants on your property; such as bird feed, pet food, fruit trees/berry bushes, barbecue grease and compost.
- Bear bells are the best way to avoid a surprise encounter: This is a great ploy. It’s best to alert bears of your presence by talking loudly, singing songs or breaking sticks. Try to hike in a group, on established trails, during daylight hours. If a bear charges you, climb a tree: Despite all their timidity on the ground, black bears seem to feel more courageous in trees. Bears sometimes kill each other by throwing their opponents out of trees.
*Bears are carnivores : Although classified in the order carnivora, grizzly and black bears are omnivores because they eat both plants and animals. Only a small percentage of their diet consist of meat, which includes fish, insects and other mammals (the exact percentage is dependant on the type of food is available in their habitat).
Bears have poor eyesight: Again this assumption is wrong. Bears see in color and have good vision similar to humans. Their night vision is excellent and they are particularly attuned to detecting movement. Like many animals, bears’ eyes have a reflective layer called the tapetum lucidum lining the back of the eyeball. This layer reflects light back through the retina, allowing light to stimulate light-sensitive cells in the retina a second time, thereby improving night vision. This is what gives dogs, cats and many nocturnal animals that distinct, bright green eyeshine when they are flashed with a light at night.
*One of the most dangerous encounters is getting between a mother black bear and her cubs: This can be terrible. Because black bears can tree their cubs, it is rare for them to attack a person in defense of cubs. However, if you are anywhere near a mother cub, she might very well perceive you as a threat. The chances are good that she will just bluff charge and stop well short of physical contact. You need to do whatever you can to show her that you are not a threat, otherwise the consequences could be tragic. Be quiet, make yourself smaller and just retreat.
*Play dead in a grizzly/black bear encounter: At does work but may not when the animal trickles your nostrils. Playing dead will work if you’re being attacked by a mother defending her cubs. But it is the wrong thing to do if you’re being attacked by a predatory bear. If a bear attacks (particularly a black bear) in an offensive manner and physical contact is made, fight for your life. Kick, punch, hit the bear with rocks or sticks or any improvised weapon you can find. A predatory bear usually stalks its prey and attacks from behind. It is often silent and the bear does not exhibit any defensive behaviors like huffing or slapping the ground. Its ears may be laid back and its head held low, with its intent focused directly on you.
A bear’s first reaction upon detecting a human is to run away. Some believe that bears have come to relate a human presence to firearms, or other weaponry, that they have come to fear. Still others think that hunters tend to target more aggressive bears, thus leaving only the more shy and timid bears to reproduce, creating a population of bears less hostile than before. Black bears present something of an exception to this, however, as mother black bears sometimes urge their cubs to climb trees for safety instead of remaining on the ground to protect their young. Another dangerous situation is when a human is faced with a hungry bear that has lost its natural fear of humans. With the decrease of hunting grounds and food crops such as berries and bark, bears often become more desperate and aggressive. However, this hunger has also triggered an unexpected reaction: bears began to follow gunfire because they associate it with dead animals that they can eat.
But what was the situation like in Pir Panjals:
- The incident occurred in Sawjiyan where the bears decided to take rest in the Dhoks. The owner of the stone apartment never knew as to what was awaiting him. The Bear was lazing around as this man arrived.
- Dera migrant Mohd Sharif S/o Mohd Farid, 19 yrs old travelling from Kalakot to Kupwara was attacked by black bear near Satharban COB.
- Maybe the bear took him as a potential threat and hence tore into him.
- The ferocity of the attack had taken the winds out of the sails of Mohammed Sharief but other than raising the SOS he could have done nothing.
- Soldiers of 40 RR Indian Army located at COB Satharban on listening to the frantic and desperate hue and cry immediately rushed to the spot with the Quick Reaction Medical Team (QRMT) providing the much needed medical assistance and thereafter safely handed him over to PHC Saujiyan,
- The man slashed by the bear attack was carried on the stretcher in an injured condition for about two hours. This was a lethal attack and it could have been any way possible for the victim had the medical support not arrived.
The timely medical assistance provided by the Indian Army helped in saving the life of the Dera migrant. The efforts of soldiers of Indian Army was appreciated by the Dera Migrants and expressed their gratitude to the Indian Army. That is all fine and it is good that the young man was saved but one thing the migrants have to keep in their minds, ‘if they have to share the habitat with the wild in Pir Panjals then their living methodology has to be understood. Animals attack when they feel threatened!’
Many wild life experts are of the view that if we can learn to live with bears, especially the black and brown, and if we can learn to accommodate the needs of bears in their natural environment, then maybe we can also find ways to use the finite resources of our UT and still maintain some of the diversity and natural beauty that were here when the landscape of Pir Panjals was virgin. Bears have been known to attack man, although the fact is that fewer people have been killed by bears than in all of World World I and World War II combined. But it’s a dangerous animal, the ideal would be never to confront it but if the situation arises then the only option is to avoid it. If a confrontation occurs the winner trust me would be only one! Ask Mohammed Sharif, he would explain it better!
(The Writer is a Senior Correspondent of News Agency Global News Service (GNS)) can be Mailed at [email protected]