Aila to blame for straying of tigers?

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Aila to blame for straying of tigers?

Ananya Dutta
July 14, 2009

According to STR records, 11 such incidents occurred in 2006-07.
‘The tigers may have become disoriented and drifted to villages’

KOLKATA: Five incidents of tigers straying into villages in the Sundarbans in the last six weeks have caused concern among the officials of the Forest Department.

Opinions differ on whether cyclone Aila was responsible for the behaviour of the tigers.

“We have seen that incidents of [tigers] straying have occurred wherever embankments were breached,” said Atanu Raha, the Principal Chief Conservator of Forests. “It is possible that the tigers may have become disoriented as the forests lie inundated, and drifted towards the villages.”

According to records of the Sundarbans Tiger Reserve (STR), 11 such incidents occurred in 2006-07. The number rose to 13 the following year. In the six weeks since the cyclone struck the region, tigers have entered inhabited areas five times.

Common occurrence

Principal Conservator of Forests (Wildlife), S.B. Mondal denied that these occurrences were connected to the cyclone.

“Instances of tigers straying into inhabited areas during the monsoon are observed every year. They are being noticed this year because of the cyclone,” he said.

While the straying of tigers might be unrelated to the cyclone, chances of man-animal conflict increasing in its aftermath were highly likely, said N.C. Bahuguna, Director STR.

“After Aila, people have lost their livelihood, so are encroaching into the forests in increasing numbers,” he said.

This is true of Bhaben Gayen, a fisherman who was killed and carried off by a tiger last week while fishing with others in Jharkhali. The fishermen allegedly entered the restricted area of the forest because of poor catches elsewhere.

“While the cyclone could be one of the probable reason for these attacks, it is difficult to know for sure,” said Richa Dwivedi, Deputy Field Director of the Reserve. “A calamity of this kind has happened after a long time, so we can’t even rely on past experiences,” she added.

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