|Published: Friday, Feb 22, 2013, 10:30 IST
By Dhaval Kulkarni | Place: Mumbai | Agency: DNA
|Published: Friday, Feb 22, 2013, 10:30 IST
By Dhaval Kulkarni | Place: Mumbai | Agency: DNA
The spot where the tiger was found is 15km from Pench reserve but just 6km from Mansinghdeo sanctuary. Although exact cause of death is not known, tiger is suspected to have died of electrocution, thanks to the negligence of MSEDCL staff that once again did not report it. The tall claims of protection by forest staff were also exposed as the carcass lay in forest for 15 days without anyone spotting it.
According to sources, the putrefied carcass was found in compartment 582 in Harnakund nullah at 3pm. The tiger is young and lay 24 metres from a 11kv electric line passing over the spot. The area is 270 metres on left of Nagpur-Jabalpur highway. A source said skin of the tiger looks charred. An electric wire was also found near the spot indicating that it must have been connected to 11kv line to kill wild animal. They also said there were cattle kills in the area where carcass was found.
However, P K Mahajan, deputy conservator of forests (DyCF), Nagpur division, said, “it is too early to say whether the animal died of poisoning or electrocution. Only a post-mortem, to be conducted on Friday, will reveal the cause. Portion below the tiger’s abdomen was badly decomposed and we could know it was tiger only from the stripes on skin.”
Honorary district wildlife warden Kundan Hate will be present as National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA) representative and Sanjay Deshpande will represent chief wildlife warden SWH Naqvi during post mortem. Chief conservator of forest (CCF) and Pench field director M S Reddy, who too rushed to the spot, suggested calling in dog squad in Chandrapur to provide clues in such cases.
Interestingly, the incident came to light a day after a training session by Nitin Desai, Central India director of Wildlife Protection Society of India (WPSI), for forest staff and MSEDCL employees on Wednesday specifically about detecting electrocution cases of poaching. The drive was launched on Thursday. “Shockingly, not a single MSEDCL employee attended the training session perhaps knowing well that a tiger had died due to electrocution in Harnakund nullah,” sources said.
“When crores of rupees are being spent to save tigers, the casual patrolling and protection from top to bottom seems disgusting. The head of the forest force (HoFF) has not called a meeting on protection of forest and wildlife demanded four months ago,” alleged Siraj Patel, central president of Maharashtra State Forest Guards, Forest Employees and Forest Labourers Union.
Mahajan admitted negligence on part of field staff who failed to notice the carcass of the tiger in 15 days.
The main problem is that…some villages are located very near to the tiger reserves & the government is not making any efforts to locate them to other places !!!
already the tiger habitat is shrinking…where do they expect the tigers to go…!!!
a tiger will go for an easy kill…for a tiger, a human or deer is a prey…& there’s nothing wrong with that…THAT’S HOW NATURE MADE THE TIGERS !!!
Gondia district deputy conservator of forests S V Ramarao said the animal was not more than three years old and was shot 20km from the Navegaon National Park boundary. The park is 130km from Nagpur.
“We first tried to tranquillize the tigress but missed, and it charged at the team. In panic, one of the commandos, Suresh Atram, fired nine rounds to kill the animal,” Ramarao said. State chief wildlife warden SWH Naqvi had granted permission to shoot the animal on January 4. The elusive tigress had killed a cow on January 10 and was in the area. Camera traps were deployed near the cattle kill on Friday to identify it.
At 10am on Saturday, a team of 20-25 officials, volunteers and commandos equipped with AK-47s went to check the cameras and established the gender of the big cat. “Presuming that the animal might be somewhere near the kill, we launched a search. One of the commandos sighted the tigress 50 feet away. Assistant conservator of forests Manohar Gokhale fired a dart to tranquillize the tigress but missed. The tigress tried to come closer and a commando then fired in the air,” said Sawan Bahekar, a team member and honorary wildlife warden of Gondia district.
The tigress disappeared after the warning shot. At noon, the teams returned to find that the animal had moved its kill from the original spot.
It was then decided that the rest of the team would leave while only seven people — including three commandos — would stay behind in wait of the big cat. Certain that the tigress would return, the team took positions near the kill. At 1.15pm, the big cat returned. Assistant conservator Gokhale shot a dart but missed. The tigress then came charging at him and commando Atram fired five rounds. Even as the animal got injured, it kept charging at the team. Later, four more rounds were fired after which the tigress finally collapsed.”
“Atram literally cried after the tigress lay dead saying, ‘Mala maaf kara’ (please pardon me),” honorary wildlife warden Bahekar said.
As news of the killing spread, thousands of villagers started gathering at the spot. To avoid any untoward incident, officials shifted the carcass 45km away. The postmortem was conducted and the body then consigned to flames.
Conservationist Harshwardhan Dhanwatey of the National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA), who was present at the final rites, said it was a very young and robust tigress, and might have recently separated from its mother.
“The animal had injuries on head, lungs and shoulders,” he said. State chief warden Naqvi justified the shooting saying it used to attack humans.
The last tiger that was shot was on November 30, 2007 in Talodi forest range in Chandrapur district. The Talodi tiger had claimed seven lives.
The deaths of five women in recent attacks by tigers in Navegaon National Park in Vidarbha’s Gondia district is another wake-up call. Over the past seven years, Vidarbha has emerged as the world’s biggest man-tiger, man-leopard conflict zone, with nearly 100 human deaths and 80 major injuries. Of revenge killings of big cats by humans there is no record — both killers and wildlife administrators have reasons to hush it up.
The first major man-animal conflagration in Vidarbha dates to 2007, the year in which this paper began to track the phenomenon closely. At least 21 humans were killed by tigers and leopards that year, and a male tiger that had killed four persons and injured several others within a month was shot dead at Talodhi, probably the first such ‘retaliation’ in the post-conservation era.
In 2008, 2011 and 2012, similar incidents forced four shoot orders, three of which were for leopards in Chandrapur district. Last year, 12 persons were killed in tiger and leopard attacks in Vidarbha.
Conflict occurs in human-dominated ‘sink’ landscapes to which tigers disperse after breeding in protected ‘source’ areas. The management of this conflict demands extremely competent handling, not just by wildlife administrators but by other stakeholders too, including pro-people NGOs. There are often no bridges between forest officials and the people — a disconnect which is starkly evident when, mauled by maneaters, people vent their anger against the department.
Accepting the animals’ right to the forest is still a far cry, the common refrain being ‘Please take your animal away’. People are becoming impatient not just with the carnivore that occasionally kills but also with the herbivore that routinely feasts on their fields. Revenge killings of animals are routine, as is hunting for cheap meat which the entire village shares and no one talks about. Gadchiroli, which has the most forest cover in the state has virtually no wildlife.
Leaving the forest administration to gram sabhas as envisaged by the Forest Rights Act will continue to sound romantic until people share the responsibility towards wildlife. It is time the principle of positive discrimination is applied to wildlife too. Till that happens, effective monitoring and conservation of wildlife, and minimising the need for people to intrude into the forest for livelihood can be effective interventions.
Vivek is a senior editor based in Nagpur
Jan 5, 2013, 02.56AM IST TNN[ Vijay Pinjarkar & Gopu Pimplapure ]
The 18-year-old girl, Bhagyashree Neware, was mauled near Bhivkhidi in Morgaon Arjuni tehsil in Gondia, at around 1.30pm. A concerned SWH Naqvi, state chief wildlife warden, who rushed to Navegaon in the evening, issued fresh orders around 5.30pm to shoot the problem tiger. However, villagers are refusing to let the forest officials act as per procedure, and want instant action.
“Earlier, I had issued orders to shoot a problem leopard, but now it seems the victims might have been killed by the same tiger. Normally, tigers do not attack humans except in self-defence, but the behaviour of this animal looks abnormal,” Naqvi said before leaving for the spot. He was accompanied by APCCF (wildlife) AK Saxena and CCF for Nagpur Circle SH Patil.
The tiger struck when Bhagyashree was returning from her farm along with her mother, sister and other village women. She was attacked when she went into the bushes along the roadside to answer nature’s call. The tiger in a small nullah pounced on her. She shouted for help and the others rushed forward, only to see the tiger dragging her body away. Farmers and labourers working in nearby fields gathered and soon the news spread, leading to scores of villagers crowding the spot.
According to one version, the tiger sat close to the body after it had killed the girl. The crowd was angry and wanted to remove the body. The forest staff were able to remove the body after great effort, but could neither tranquillize the problem animal nor replace the body with goat meat to avoid more attacks.
However, according to an eyewitness, villagers were agitated over the ‘lack of action’ by forest officials. A violent crowd of around 2,000 damaged a dozen vehicles of public representatives, revenue, forest and police department staff and also targeted a state transport bus.
After the tiger mauled the girl, the carnivore was in the forest till the evening but the staff did not have orders to shoot it. The scared staff had gathered at a loghut in Navegaon, fearing a public backlash, and was waiting for orders from Naqvi.
SV Ramarao, deputy conservator of forests (DyCF) for Gondia, said the crowd did not allow the tranquillizing team and sharp shooters to approach the tiger. “We had to take police help. Our men sighted the tiger but by the time the team reached the animal, it was already dark,” Ramarao said.
“A combing operation will continue even in the night. Still, priority will be to tranquillize the animal before shooting it. Both teams will zero in on the animal simultaneously,” he added.
The earlier fatalities in this area have been Chhaya Deshpande from Manegaon near Dighori on December 15, Muktabai Ganvir of Salebardi on December 24, Mirabai Bahekar from Gudri near Sangadi on December 29 and Vandana Meshram of Chikli on January 1.
The distance between fourth and the fifth victim, both killed by the tiger, is hardly 15km. On the basis of pugmarks, forest staff had earlier claimed that the first three women were killed by a leopard and last two by a tiger.
“Pugmarks of a young tiger are similar to a full-grown leopard and hence they concluded the problem animal was a leopard. We established it was a tiger only after the fourth woman was killed and the tiger was spotted,” Ramarao said.
Now, forest officials are assuming all victims must have been killed by the same tiger, since it also eluded six trap cages with bait laid near the spots. “A tiger rarely walks into a trap. Had it been a leopard, it would have been caged by now,” they said.
“It is indeed shocking and surprising that even 40 years after ‘Project Tiger‘ began the forest staff is unable to differentiate between a leopard and tiger. Where are the camera traps procured by every division? Why were experts not deployed after the first kill? There is no regular monitoring by field staff and hence such incidents take place,” said Chandrakant Deshmukh, who was earlier summoned to shoot the Talodi tiger in 2007 by ex-PCCF B Majumdar. The Talodi tiger had killed seven villagers.
Gondia district guardian minister Anil Deshmukh is also visiting the spot and will hand over compensation money to family of the deceased. On Saturday, wildlife biologist Vidya Atre from Pune is reaching Navegaon to help the forest officials.
END OF A TIGER
* Last tiger to be shot, when and why: On November 30, 2007, a full-grown tiger was shot down in Govindpur in Talodi range in Brahmapuri. It had turned into a man-eater and killed 7 villagers.
* What’s the plan for Navegaon tiger? Orders have been issued to tranquillize the animal, but if need is felt, to shoot it. Attempts to drive it away into deep forests seem to have failed. The animal is moving on the fringes of the park perhaps in search of easy prey.
* Who will shoot it? Three commandos from Bhandara police have been summoned, and three from the forest department have been equipped with SLRs. It is not easy to either tranquillize or shoot an animal in the wild. The animal will have to be lured in with a bait.
* Precautions by forest department and police: The biggest problem is of keeping away angry villagers, who want instant action. After the deaths of five women, it is risky to approach the animal. Combing operations have been launched and patrolling intensified.
Jan 3, 2013, 02.22AM IST TNN
Villagers are up in arms and want forest officials to either kill or trap the animal. This is the fourth death in the last 17 days.
“However, it is yet to be established whether it is the same animal that killed three women since December 15,” said SWH Naqvi, principal chief conservator of forests (PCCF) for wildlife, Maharashtra.
Naqvi said he issued orders to shoot the problem leopard that mauled three women in Dighori, Salebardi and Gudri. “I was told that it was a leopard that killed these women,” he said.
However, on Tuesday the fourth victim was killed by a tiger inside the national park where she had gone to collect fire wood. After learning about it, villagers shifted the body outside the park apprehending the family won’t get compensation.
“The tiger was so irritated that it charged at an official vehicle later. It may be a young carnivore, possibly moving in the transit route. We cannot say anything for now whether it is the same animal or different one. There is a gap of 18 days between the first and last attack. The distance is also 40km,” Naqvi said.
Meanwhile, it is learnt that no fresh orders will be given to shoot the tiger. Forest officials have been asked to drive away the tiger into the forests.