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Saturday, February 23, 2013

Tiger authority forms guidelines to deal with man-animal conflicts

StoryComments LUCKNOW: Given the frequent incidents of wild animals straying into human habitations, and the state forest department's failure to control the damage done to humans or to the stray animal, in most of the incidents, the National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA) has developed a standard operating procedure (SOP) to deal with emergency arising due to straying of tigers in human-dominated areas. The authority has sent the guidelines to the chief wildlife wardens and PCCFs of tiger range states for implementation. The purpose of the SOP is to ensure that straying tigers are handled in the most appropriate manner to avoid casualty or injury to human beings, tiger, cattle and property. One of the major suggestions made to the states is that an "authorised spokesperson of the forest department should periodically update the media (if required) to prevent dissemination of distorted information relating to the operation/incidents." NTCA has said that under no circumstances should a tiger be eliminated by invoking the Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972, 'if it is not habituated for causing human death.' In case of a healthy tiger/encumbered tigress occupying a sugar cane field or similar habitat, attempt should be made first to attract it to nearby forest area, while avoiding disturbance. If such operations fail, the animal should be captured through immobilization for release in low density area of a nearby tiger reserve/protected area after radio collaring, said NTCA. SOP calls for establishing the identity of the tiger and to find out the source area of the animal. In case, the area has a history of such incidents, detailed research has to be carried out in order to assess the reasons for frequent tiger emergencies in the area. Camera traps should be set near the site, where kill took place to confirm and establish the identity of the animal. The kill should also be guarded, so that stray tiger comes back to eat it and it should also be safeguarded against poisoning. The state forest departments will have to proactively involve DM and SSP/SP of the area to maintain law and order in the area, besides avoiding crowding by local people and to also acquaint them with human-tiger conflict issues and guidelines of the NTCA to deal with the situation. The forest department should seek help from district level officials to alert villages in the vicinity of the area, where tiger is roaming. If successive trapping efforts fail, chemical immobilization of the wild carnivore should be done by an expert team having a veterinarian. In case, the tranquilised tiger is found to be healthy or young, without any incapacitation (loss of canine, injury, broken paw), it may be released after radio collaring in a suitable habitat with adequate prey base, away from the territory of a resident male tiger (if any) or human settlements, and NTCA should be intimated of the same.

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