Sunderbans tigers frequently straying to nearby villages

Sunderbans tigers frequently straying to nearby villages

"It is a matter of concern to us. We are in the process of analysing the reasons behind it," Director of Sunderbans Biosphere Reserve (SBR), Pradip Vyas said.

He said that a number of steps were taken to prevent big cats from entering adjoining villages to kill cattle leading to frequent man-animal conflicts.

"One important decision was to enhance the prey base in the Sunderbans and improve the habitat qualitatively. As per recommendation of the state wildlife board, 200 deer will be released in the Sunderbans after an elaborate process of examination to ensure that they are free from any disease. It may take 3 to 9 months to complete the process", he said.

He said that some of the tigers trapped by foresters were found to be "physically stressed".

Field director of STR Subrat Mukherjee, however, said that tiger straying in the Sunderbans has not increased. There was also no shortage of preybase, he said.
Wildlife NGOs, however, expressed fear that frequent straying of big cats might lead to fresh man-animal conflict.

Stating that an alarming situation has developed, Biswajit Roychowdhury, secretary of Nature, Environment and Wildlife society who has worked in the Sunderbans, wondered how STR authorities arrived at the conlcusion that there was no shortage of prey base without any proper study.

He claimed that neither the STR authorities would conduct any such study, nor would it allow NGOs to do it.

Roychowdhury also opposed the decision to release deer in Sunderban from deer parks.
Raja Chatterjee, secretary of another NGO 'The Junglees' said the straying of tigers was due to depletion in the prey base.

Vyas, also a former director of STR, said the Sunderbans Biosphere Reserve would conduct an exercise with WWF which would help ascertain the actual situation regarding prey base in different islands of the Sunderbans forest.

Apart from this, a new management methodology for tiger straying was introduced from last month to collect all data about such incidents, he said.

Another measure adopted was to introduce a mechanism called nylon net fence maintenance protocol under which the the entire area of the Sunderbans, including that of South 24- Paraganas district would be fenced with nylon net, Vyas said.

The old fencing, which was damaged, would be replaced and there would be regular checks by forest guards and beat officers in which villagers would also be involved.

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