Monday, January 29, 2018

After 22 deaths in 14 months, PTR to adopt Gir methods to deal with man-animal conflict

| TNN | Updated: Jan 26, 2018, 13:19 IST
PILIBHIT: After 22 people were mauled to death by tigers in and around Pilibhit tiger reserve in the past 14 months, the forest officials here have decided to adopt methods of Gir National Park in Gujarat to reduce man-animal conflict in the region. In Gir, which is home to 500 lions and around 600 leopards, incidents of big cats attacking and killing humans are rare.
An action plan being prepared by Adarsh Kumar, divisional director of social forestry, who had been sent to Gir by the state forest administration recently, will soon be sent to the state authorities for their approval.

According to Kumar, authorities in Gir have succeeded in overcoming the situation of man-animal conflict by ensuring that its well-equipped quick response teams (QRTs) of trained and experienced wildlife officials are on call round-the-clock.

The teams have adequate trained rescue staff who are equipped with nets, cages, tranquilizing guns, live baits and dart guns besides effective means of mobility, Kumar said. 
"The Gir forest authorities have an independent rescue department and the power to grant permission to tranquilize any big cat has been delegated up to the level of conservator there. Due to separate entity of rescue department, the teams are free to focus their exclusive attention on rescue operations with absolute preparedness," Kumar said.

"Lions in Gir pose no threat to villagers even when they move out of the forest area but leopards frequently barge into rural habitation in search of domestic cattle as prey. Despite this, the situation has never turned alarming as the QRTs trap one leopard there almost every two days," Kumar said.

By providing full security to the people living around Gir, the QTRs have won both trust and cooperation of the community, said the social forestry official. This in turn helps in practical application of rescue strategies without any resistance by villagers.

Comparing PTR with Gir, Kumar said, "The major drawback we face in Pilibhit in conducting rescue operations is the unprecedented aggression of villagers over any incident of a tiger straying into village areas. This is due to delay in our rescue operations which is influenced by lack of infrastructure, absence of separate QRTs and shortage of field force among other things."

On being asked about the proposed action plan, he said he would seek requisition of at least one independent QRT comprising four to five persons, including one dart shooter, for each of the five ranges of PTR and three of social forestry division. One additional QRT would be deployed in Amaria block area where five tigers have been living for the past five years, he added. PTR has 48 tigers.

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