Sunderbans walk to raise tiger awareness

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Sunderbans walk to raise tiger awareness

TNN 8 November 2009, 06:01am IST

KOLKATA: Even as tiger straying in the Sunderbans remains a major wildlife concern, thousands will be joining hands for a unique “march for the tiger” campaign that gets under way at the mangrove forest on November 9.

It will be flagged off on Bally island and will wind its way through half a dozen straying-prone areas before finishing at Pakhiralaya on November 13. It is being organized by NGOs Sanctuary, Bengal Tiger Line and Wild Life Conservation Trust with Wildlife Protection Society of India, WWF and Institute of Climbers and Nature Lovers as field associates.

Bagher Jonyo Hatun’ (walk for the tiger) aims to raise the tolerance level of Sunderbans villagers towards tigers. “Frequent straying has been a matter of concern. So far, villagers have shown remarkable restraint in dealing with the situation. But we need to sustain this spirit of tolerance for which we need to campaign and raise awareness. We must convince the people that tigers are essential for the survival of the mangrove forest, which, in turn would act as a buffer against natural calamities like the Aila,” said Joydeep Kundu of Sanctuary.

The campaign would be using folk theatre to reach out to the villagers. Tiger dancers from Ganjam in Orissa will be performing at the walk that travels through Bally, Sonargaon, Dayapur, Rajat Jubilee, Kumirmari, Mollakhali and Shamshernagar. Each of these islands have witnessed multiple tiger strayings over the last two years. More than 7,000 volunteers and hundreds of school children are expected to join the walk.

The campaign will focus on the importance of working in tandem with the forest department during tiger strayings. Villagers will be asked to inform forest guards and officials in case a tiger sneaks into a human habitation and desist from harming the animal. “Remarkably, not a single tiger has been attacked in the last three years though we have witnessed several strayings in the last two years. But unless we can impress upon villagers that this is essential for their own survival, things might change,” added Kundu.

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