Man-animal conflict returns, tiger kills one more in TATR

Man-animal conflict returns, tiger kills one more in TATR

Vivek Deshpande
Posted: Sunday , Feb 07, 2010 at 0625 hrs
The animal-human conflict in the northern Tadoba-Andhari Tiger Reserve (TATR) landscape has staged a deadly comeback after about a year, with three women getting killed by tiger in three consecutive days, the latest one on Saturday morning.

Victims Nalubai Ghodmare, Suderabai Nannaware and Manda Torpakwar were attacked by the tiger while they were collecting firewood in the forest in Mul and Sindewahi tehsils. All the deaths happened within 15-20 km, suggesting possibility of a single tiger being involved.

The death tally in the conflict since 2006 has gone up to 60, with over 25 others been injured.

Earlier, in December, tiger had killed two persons and had injured one in the same area, taking the death toll to five in less than two months. The conflict had peaked in 2008 with 25 deaths in TATR. In December 2007, a tiger, which had killed four persons in a month in the adjoining Talodhi range, had to be shot dead.

A special Corridor Conservation Programme (CCP) was launched in 2008 to contain the damage. The conflict had suddenly stopped after only one human death in January 2009.

Moreover, in the lull period, many tiger deaths and disappearances were reported from the area, suggesting cessation of the conflict. However, an expenditure of Rs 37 lakh and ten months later, the conflict has resumed with the recent deaths.

“In the latest cases, we don’t know if it’s a tigress with cubs or a single tiger. We will assess the situation first before taking any decision,” said Chief Conservator of Forest Nandkishor who visited the area on Saturday.

“This case is different than Talodhi incident where the tiger was coming out and killing people. So, we can’t say this is a problem animal. We will give it a thought and see what best can be done under the circumstances,” Nandkishor added.

Wildlife activist Nitin Desai said, “I agree. But any response will have to strike a balance between people and tiger. As long as the animal is very much within its habitat, it can’t be branded as a problem animal.”

Incidentally, most of the tiger attacks happen on women who go to forest to collect firewood. Asked why firewood isn’t reached by the Forest Department as mandated under CCP, Nandkishor said, “That may help only in cases where women go to collect firewood for their own hearths. But many of them collect it for livelihood. That can’t be provided under the scheme. But, yes, the villagers can be given alternative livelihood under schemes such as NREGA. Only the Forest Department can’t do it. All departments will have to chip in.”

Says Poonam Dhanwatey of Tiger Research and Conservation Trust (TRACT), the NGO implementing CCP along with the Forest Department: “We first need to keep villagers away from forest, identify the animal whether it’s a female with cubs or an old or injured tiger and then lure it away to prevent further attacks.”

In 2009-10, however, CCP hasn’t yet got any of the Rs 21 lakh sanctioned in the budget


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