Tiger strays into Sunderbans village, rescued

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Tiger strays into Sunderbans village, rescued

Saugar Sengupta Kolkata
Sunday, February 14, 2010

At a time when tigers that stray from their natural habitats are often attacked, set upon and killed by villagers, there is heartening news from the delta. An adult Royal Bengal Tiger that strayed into a Sunderbans village was trapped by forest officials on Saturday for release into the wild.

It was a ‘full grown male,’ forest officials said. They said the beast had come out of the Herobhanga forests and arrived on the banks of Herobhanga river, a subsidiary of the river Matla.

“Forest officers thought that the beast might enter Jharkhali village by swimming across the Herobhanga. So they put bait inside a huge cage and set it up in the jungle. The tiger stepped inside and was trapped,” Bamon Mandal, a local politician, said.

Sunderbans, the world’s largest estuarine delta, is situated on a huge network of river backwaters, mostly branches of the Hooghly, Padma and Meghna, Matla and Vidyadhari. Each of these hundreds of rivers infested with crocodiles branch out into narrow rivulets and creeks fed by tides.

Not far from the Bay of Bengal, these rivers are often several kilometres wide. Nonetheless, a Royal Bengal Tiger’s strength can be gauged from the fact that these animals can swim across these rivers without being swept away by under currents or disturbed en route by the crocodiles. Saturday’s was the third incident of a tiger entering human habitation in the past one month, officials said.

Experts have linked repeated man-animal clashes with global warming and resultant loss of balance in the estuarine ecosystem. Storms like Sidr and Aila have inundated grasslands inside the forests, leading to shortage of deer and wild boar, the normal diet of the tiger, a Divisional Forest Officer said. “The department is still trying to understand how much damage has been caused by Aila and Sidr,” he said.

A tiger from the forests had strayed into Chargheri village in Gosaba police station limits in July 2009. That year saw as many as 20 straying into human habitats often in search of food. “Forest officials often fix number tag and microchip to the ear and other parts of the tiger to monitor its movements as was done in the case of the Chargheri tiger,” the official said.

Another tiger had strayed into Gosaba’s Pirkhali village in November last year. The tiger had then swum across Pirkhali and roamed a number of villages including Sonagaon, Mitrabari and Bijoynagar in Bali Island.

In December 2008, another tiger had strayed into Annpur village again in Gosaba police station. The tiger that had entered from Pirkhali forest and hunted a dog was later found too old to hunt, the then DFO S K Mukherjee said. Around same time another tiger was spotted at Kultali in Joynagar not very far from Pirkhali.

According to Subroto Mukherjee, a key Sunderban Tiger Reserve official, ten persons had died of tiger attacks and 20 tigers had strayed into human habitat after the Aila storms in May. Global warming and shrinking tiger habitat on account of advancing sea and swelling rivers are the main causes for increase in tiger attacks, the official said.



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