Big cats stray into human settlements in Kheri, Dudhwa

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Big cats stray into human settlements in Kheri, Dudhwa

Press Trust of India Posted online: Friday , Dec 18, 2009 at 0415 hrs

Lakhimpur Kheri : Over a dozen tigers have strayed into human settlements near the Dudhwa Tiger Reserve and Kheri forest divisions, prompting forest officials to devise a multi-pronged strategy involving villagers to check man-animal conflict.

With a nine-year-old boy at Sathiana Range’s Azadnagar village in the Dudhwa Reserve falling prey to a tiger, the park administration and senior forest officials are in no mood to take any chance.

North Kheri Divisional Forest Officer Kartik Kumar Singh said over six tigers are currently in Palia, north and south Nighasan, Sampurnanagar and Dhaurehra ranges.

Admitting that the presence of so many big cats in close proximity of the human settlements may result in serious man-animal conflict, field director Shailesh Prasad said: “We have devised a multi-pronged strategy to contain the big cats in their habitats.”

Primary response teams comprising Dudhwa Reserve staff, forest and police department officials, and experts from the Wildlife Trust of India (WTI) have been constituted to respond to the incidents of big cats straying into the human settlements, he added. “We have also taken the villagers and village heads living in the close vicinity of forest areas into confidence and deputed several of them to inform us about the presence of big cats,” Prasad said.

“If the presence of a big cat is reported, we will start tracking its movement — through pugmark and visual sighting — and with effective combing, attempts will be made to drive back the tiger,” he added.

Ruling out cane-farming as the sole factor behind the straying of big cats in the fringes of Dudhwa Reserve, Prasad said the winter season coincides with the mating season of the big cats. Several pregnant tigresses have also taken shelter in the fringes owing to the presence of wild boars in the nearby cane fields.

A K Singh, an expert who is heading the WTI teams in Lakhimpur, said his staff has engaged sociologists to establish healthy communication with locals to infuse confidence among them and ensure their cooperation. Veterinary doctors and biologists have also been engaged to differentiate between the errant and normal big cats.

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