This blog is a humble contribution towards increasing awareness about problems being faced wrt Tiger Conservation in India. With the Tiger fast disappearing from the radar and most of us looking the other way the day is not far when the eco system that supports and nourishes us collapses. Citizen voice is an important tool that can prevent the disaster from happening and this is an attempt at channelising the voice of concerned nature lovers.
By Mazhar Ali, TNN | Feb 7, 2013, 02.16 AM IST
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CHANDRAPUR: Perturbed by the rising incidents of tiger-man conflict, National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA) has come up with a Standard Operating Procedure (SOP). SOP is an advisory on the steps that has to be taken while dealing with emergencies arising due to straying of tigers in human settlements. Its purpose is to ensure that the situation is handled in an appropriate manner so as to avoid casualty or injury to human beings, tigers, cattle or property.
The procedure has been drawn up after consulting wildlife experts and the field officers. It has been sent to the all the PCCFs, Head of forest force and Chief Wildlife Wardens in the country.
According to the SOP, in the event of a big cat straying into human settlement, a committee comprising of the chief wildlife warden, NTCA officials, a veterinarian, representatives of local NGO and the local panchayat has to be immediately formed. This committee will be responsible of providing technical guidance and also will ensure proper monitoring, on a day-to-day basis, in the problem area.
Secondly, the big cat and its source area has to be identified. Also, data on livestock depredation and human injury or fatality has to be collected.
If it is confirmed that the tiger is repeatedly straying into human settlements or is responsible for attacks on humans or livestocks, then the forest authorities have been advised to trap the animal as per standard procedures.
SOP categorically puts the responsibility of maintaining law and order on the district authorities of the area. If successive trapping efforts fail, chemical immobilization of the big cat should be done by an expert team comprising of a veterinarian. In case the tranquillized tiger is healthy and is in its prime then it may be released into a suitable habitat after radio collaring it. However, the chief wildlife warden is vested with the responsibility of making the call on whether to release the animal or not.
SOP also cautions that under no circumstances, a tiger should be eliminated by invoking the Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972, if it is not causing human death. It provides detailed guidelines on declaring a big cat a man-eater.
Tigress released in Karnataka 71 days ago trapped again in Wayanad last week
Photo-matching done at the Centre for Wildlife Studies - India (CWS) in Bangalore now shows that the tiger trapped in Wayanad this Saturday is a ‘problem tiger’ that had created a conflict situation at a place called Nalkeri on the boundary of the Nagarahole National Park in Karnataka just 71 days ago.
The finding points to need for a re-examination of the capture-release practice followed by the conservation officials in dealing with ‘problem tigers’ that stray into human habitations and cause conflict situations.
This tiger was captured in a box trap by the Karnataka Forest officials on November 23 after two cattle-killing incidents on November 20 and 21 in Nalkeri village outside the western boundary of the Nagarahole Tiger Reserve, according to conservation zoologist and director of CWS - India Programme, K. Ullas Karanth.
It was an injured tiger and, after treatment at the Mysore zoo, was released by late evening on the same day near a place called Hidagalapanchi in Karnataka’s Bandipur Tiger Reserve. The place of release is less than 10 km, as the crow flies, from the adjoining Wayanad Wildlife Sanctuary in Kerala.
Dr. Karanth told The Hindu that the CWS had searched its database containing the stripe patterns of over 600 individually identifiable tigers surviving in the Malanad-Mysore landscape — a database that contains camera-trap pictures gathered over the years from the region — and found the match for the stripe pattern of the tiger captured this Saturday in Wayanad from a conflict situation.
The study showed that this tiger—a tigress, in fact—is the same one that was repeatedly captured by camera-traps and even two wildlife photographers during the period from 2007 to 2012 from a particular area in Nagarahole National Park. It was pushed out of this area, which apparently was its home range, due to unknown reasons that could include inability to retain the home range in the face of competition. It started straying into the human habitations outside Nagarahole in November 2012, to be trapped by the Karnataka Forest officials. It returned once again to human settlements in neighbouring Kerala after being released in Bandipur Tiger Reserve. Apparently, the animal could not hunt and survive.
In a report to the Forest Department on Monday, Dr. Karanth and his associates N. Samba Kumar and Narendra Patil said the tigress, now in Thrissur zoo, should not be released back in the wild. It was eight years or more in age and in a very poor condition.
Keywords: Centre for Wildlife Studies, Nagarahole National Park, Karnataka Forest officials, Bandipur Tiger Reserve