GUWAHATI, Jan 3 ? While the man-elephant conflict in the State has
constantly been hogging the limelight, the ominous signs of another
growing hostility ? between man and tiger ? have been palpable near
many wildlife habitats. And this has come at a time when the big cat
is being pushed to the brink, thanks to ruthless poaching and habitat
shrinkage. Two tiger cubs were poisoned inside a tea garden on the
outskirts of the famed Kaziranga National Park last week. While one
of the cubs died, the other is recuperating at the Wildlife Rescue
and Rehabilitation Centre. This comes close on the heels of the
poisoning case in Orang National Park in October last year where two
tiger cubs had died.
“As in Orang, the Kaziranga incident is likely to be a case of
poisoning but we are waiting for the results of the forensic tests,”
MC Malakar, Chief Wildlife Warden, Assam, told The Assam Tribune.
According to forest officials, poisoning cases like these cannot be
termed as poaching, and are the result of a growing man-tiger
conflict. “In recent times there have been several cases of killing
of livestock, particularly cattle, on the fringe villages of
Kaziranga. The poisoning seemed to be a retaliatory action, as the
cubs had fed on a cow carcass apparently laced with poison,” Bankim
Sarma, Divisional Forest Officer (DFO), Kaziranga, said.
The first cub, a male, was found inside the Hatikhuli Tea Estate in a
serious condition on December 27. It was immediately taken to the
rescue centre and stated to be making a quick recovery.
“We discovered the carcass of another cub, a female, in the vicinity
the next day. A bottle of what seemed to be insecticide was also
recovered from a nearby fishery,” Sarma said, adding that samples of
the cow carcass and the bottle were sent for forensic tests and
police investigation was on.
Conservationists feel that the spurt in poisoning could seriously
impede the survival prospects of the tiger, which is already on a
slippery ground due to unabated poaching and habitat destruction
across the country.
“This is a serious development that can adversely impact tiger
conservation. The situation is more dangerous because the
compensation paid to the owners of livestock killed by tigers has
failed to act as a deterrent to poisoning,” Sarma said.
Sarma added that there had also been awareness campaigns on the front
in the fringe areas. But apparently, it was not yielding the desired
results. “Forest personnel across the Park have been put on alert and
vigil intensified following the developments,” he said.
Kaziranga, incidentally, has one of the highest tiger populations in
the country with a count of 86 as per the 2000 census. It was
recently declared a Tiger Reserve. The first phase of the ongoing
census has been over and the second phase is to start soon.
Carnivores like tiger occasionally develop the tendency to fall on
easy prey such as cattle available in the fringe human habitations,
which can take the form of a serious man-animal conflict unless
The poisoning incident in Orang was also similar in nature. Two tiger
cubs were found dead after devouring a buffalo kill, which was
poisoned by local villagers.
For The Tiger
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