Tigers menace Malnad villages

Tigers menace Malnad villages

Dozens of Malnad Gidda cattle have been killed by big cats

In villages under Kudumallige, Bejjavalli and Hodala-Aralapura Grama Panchayats, tigers have preyed upon dozens of the local cattle breed, Malnad Gidda.

Three days ago, a tiger killed a cow belonging to Dharmaraja of Makkikoppa in Kudumallige Grama Panchayat. The tigers have been targeting the cattle as the denuded forest has little prey to offer, experts say.

The tiger attacks have created an atmosphere of fear and owners of cattle are now stopped letting their animals graze in the open. Residents of many villages have reported sighting tigers on the outskirts of their villages even in day time. Such sightings have been reported in Nellisara, Makkikoppa, Karki, Biluve, Kallatti, Kodigi in Kudumallige GP, Yadagudde, Thuppadamane, Koppalu, Hodala of Hodala-Aralapura GP, Heggaru of Bejjavalli GP and  the ghat foothills villages such as Mahishi, Dabbanagadde, Udayapura, Kunikundooru, Kikkeri and Heggaru.

Worst-affected by the increase in tiger numbers are owners and breeders of cattle. The attacks have virtually endangered the Malnad Gidda variety of cattle, a dwarf variety, which yields little milk but is a hardy breed requiring little care.

Over the last 3-4 years, between 50 and 60 cattle have been missing. Owners searching for their missing cattle come across only the carcasses fully or partially eaten by tigers.

According to residents, the tiger attacks average one every fortnight. Over the last two months, five cattle owners in one village - Nellisara - Sheshappa, Krishnamurthy, Achutha, Chandrashekhara and Shankarappa lost a cow each.

In Malnad, cows are let out to graze, as families do not have enough fodder to confine the cattle within their homes. The area has little natural forest, and the Mysore Paper Mills (MPM) has planted acacia for paper pulp in whatever government land is left, such as grazing land (gomala) and soppina betta (green vegetable patches).

The acacia plantations have denied natural forage for the cattle and whenever they are harvested, which is once every nine years, cattle are starved for forage, forcing them to stray away from human habitat.

Families who have lost their valuable animals also come across a mind-boggling red tape in claiming compensation from the Forest Department. Applicants for compensations have to show the carcass of their animals to the Forest Department. They have to submit its photograph, get a post-mortem report prepared by a doctor.

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