Skip to main content

Stone Pelting on Tiger Cubs :Kanha Pench Corridor Becomes Conflict Zone

 Two tiger cubs- less than 6 month old- escaped the fury of a 5000 strong mob in a village located in Kanha-Pench corridor . Villagers tried to kill them by pelting stones when the cubs had reached a water body to quench their thirst. This issue  has highlighted again the plight of the fragmented tiger corridors. It also reminds the urgency to restore their sanctity. People Shouted Kill the Cubs Kill the Cubs  Wildlife is most vulnerable during summer, due to scarcity of resources. Water is the key limited resource inside jungles . Special monitoring ofwater holes should be carried out all along the corridors, to effectively deter such incidents, poaching of herbivores and poisoning of tigers and othercarnivores. In the scorching summer, the two cubs also reached a nearby waterbody . In the adjacent forest , the villagers were plucking tendu leaves- a minor forest produce  to  roll beedi , a thin cigarette or mini-cigar filled with tobacco flake and commonly wrapped in a tendu leaf. Th

Avni's killing: Core Issue of Tiger Corridors Lost in Oblivion


More than two and half years after a  bullet was fired from a .458 Winchester Magnum rifle by a professional hunter  shooting down  T1 of Avni, the man eater tigress in Yavatmal district of  Maharashtra , controversies continued to surround the shoot out. The case is also being heard in the Supreme Court and  government inquiries are also ordered to probe it. But the core issue of  fragmented  forests of the country and the poor connectivity of tiger corridors has taken a back seat. T1 - and her two cubs - were among the large number of tigers living outside the reserve forests when she became a man eater. The ferocious tigress was drifting around jungles and farmland near the town of Pandharkawada  town where a professional hunter shot her dead on November 2 ,2018.

Tigress on the Prowl

Avni, perhaps had migrated to Ralegaon area and Pandharkawada from Tipeshwer wildlife sanctuary 50-60km west of Loni village in Yavatmal district. Her first kill was  believed to be a woman named Sonabai Ghosale in  village Borati, in 2016. The conflict escalated in August 2018, when in a single month, three victims were linked to Avni’s fury . By then, an order was issued to kill the tigress, which was immediately challenged in the High Court and later in the Supreme Court.  Based on photographic evidence and track marks, authorities linked the animal to 13 deaths. There were protests in the region as villagers wanted the tigress to be killed. But people also alleged the involvement of  politicians in  instigating the  villagers.

Also read : Another tiger loses life in eco-sensitive rail zone connecting India

On the other hand  conservationists  in Maharashtra also protested against the government's order to kill the tigress. Those who follow the wildlife stories in India know that Avni’s case generated a huge controversy.  In January 2020, nearly 13 months after her killing, the case was reopened again by the new Uddhav Thackeray government in Maharashtra following a letter by animal conservationist Jerryl Banait, a  young dermatologist based in Nagpur. He said that much before the tiger was eliminated, he had named her after  his father’s name who is also a practicing doctor in Nagpur. After Avni’s death, he filed a criminal PIL. He said that he would continue to   pursue the case till Avni gets justice. Several pleas were filed in the SC. And as he pursues the cases, his life is at risk. There is another activist ,Sangeeta Dogra who made two claims. The first was that Avani was not a man-eater since human remains were not found to be part of the contents of her stomach post-mortem. The second claim is that following the killing, the shooter Ali was gifted a silver tigress for the act by the villagers, essentially making it an act of trophy killing.

The Hunt for Avni


Drones with thermal imaging capabilities were used for locating Avni. When she was being hunted .It looked less like a bushwhack through the wilderness than a coordinated military operation, reported The Washington Post after the incident, generating the interest of the international wildlife community in the case. For months, park rangers and police officers beat through the forest in central India's Maharashtra state. They deployed paragliders and infrared cameras, another international newspaper ,The Guardian reported. Sharpshooters were mounted on the backs of trained elephants. Around 150 people participated in the full-court press to track down a single animal looping through the region, the report said, showing the interest of the international media in the killing of the tigress. The foreign media reports also internationalized the issue.

Also read: Protect This Wildlife Corridor To Save The Ganges

The tigress was shot by Asghar Ali Khan, a shooter from Hyderabad hired by the forest department to eliminate the tigress . One night, Asgar Ali Khan and his team were informed about the sighting of T1."After hearing reports of the tiger being on the road we moved in to ensure safe passage of any people and to get them out, and also in the hope of tranquilising her," The Telegraph  quoted Khan ."Our priority was always to capture the tigress, but my team was in extreme danger when she charged us, so I had to shoot. I just picked up my .458 Winchester Magnum rifle and fired. I didn't even have time to aim,"he said. "There was no doubt that human lives were in danger. There was a market day and the tiger was just on a road that people use and children cycle on so we had to get there," Asgar Ali Khan, the hunter who killed the animal, told the Telegraph. "She had tasted human flesh and saw us like monkeys, or goats, or other prey. So when she charged at us I had to shoot in self-defence."

The real Issue

The Avni saga yet again puts the focus on the fragmented forests of the country in general and those of eastern Maharashtra's in particular. And no one in India seems to be willing   to address the issue. But the mandarin of the Ministry of Environment and Forest continue to be in denial mode as they refuse to address the issue. They also need to be addressed with a strong political will. Imagine 35 % of India’s tiger population or about 1000 in number roam about outside the reserve forest areas. The latest tiger census said there were 2967 found in India. For years, India’s conservation approach has singularly focused on protected areas, which constitute a mere 5% of India’s landmass ignoring the forest corridors . There are villages, roads and farms disconnecting them with the reserved forests.

Also read:Tiger's Epic Walk Raises Serious Environmental Issues

Like other parts of India, Maharashtra’s large carnivores also share space with dense human populations in many pockets, highlighting the need to shift  the focus from a protected-area centric approach to a landscape-level conservation policy . Two processes are at play, explains a senior IFS officer of Maharashtra. “The tigers are growing and forests are fragmenting. Conflict is a natural corollary, ”he said  .The tiger habitats, he said , have shrunk and their corridors of movement have been broken. There are more tigers outside protected areas today than there were a few years ago, he points out. In Yavatmal, the problem, however, did not start with T1, nor will it end with her demise, say wildlife activists. “This is the right time to sit down and redraft our conservation strategy," Nitin Desai, the central India director of the Wildlife Protection Society of India (WPSI) has been quoted in the media. “We have to deal with a tiger population that has not seen or won’t see a contiguous forest belt. We are essentially looking at wild cats hovering around us", he observed.

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Frame By Frame: Tigers Fight In Kanha National Park

  Kanha National Park reverberated with the roars of two fighting tigers. They stood tall on their hind legs and charged each other aggressively blowing the dust from the dry forest ground . Their deadly paws opened as the tigers pounced upon each other roaring loudly exposing their deadly canines .They apparently fought for a female. She later moved away from the sparring stripes and they too calmed down. As the roars echoed through the jungle, other wild animals were frightened. Such fights  are major causes of tiger deaths in the wild.  The Epic Fight It happened on April 27 mornings in the Mukki zone of Kanha tiger reserve. Some tourists shot the epic battle on their   mobile phones. The two tigers -Neel Nalla Male and Bhoin Dabra fought ferociously.  The tigress known as Jhila Lime was believed to be the reason behind the big fight.  In India's tiger reserves, local guides and  drivers   give amusing names to the  big cats   . And these names are based on either the appearance

It's Time to Radio Collar Urban Tigers of Bhopal

The tigers roaming around Bhopal, a phenomenon first of its kind in the world, are required to be radio collared. In all there is movement of 18 big cats in a tiger corridor near the state capital, six of them have become resident tigers of Bhopal.  Termed as urban tigers by the state forest department, they are seen venturing near the campuses of the universities situated on city outskirts, government office building premises and parks. Tiger sighting is common on Kerwa and Kaliyasot roads in Bhopal. Radio collaring of these resident tigers would facilitate monitoring of their movements in and around the city. It is also necessary for the safety of the people. Unforgettable 180 Seconds of Watchman On February 6- night this year, a tiger sighting was recorded in Bhoj Open University in Bhopal, a terrifying nightmarish experience for the university guards.   The tiger entered the bungalow campus of the university vice chancellor after scaling the boundary wall. However, which  one of th

Super Moms Of Tiger Reserves In India

  As the world observed International Mother’s day, we remember some super moms in the national parks of India. The tigresses are known for their fertility   and have fascinated a large number of tourists across the globe.  Speaking of super moms in the world of tigers, who can forget Sita of Bandhavgarh and Machli of Ranthambhore? Though mystery shrouded her death, Sita was, perhaps, the first  among the super moms, a term created by the media. National Geographic immortalized Sita  when she was featured on the cover of the magazine in 1997. The “tiger mother” attracted global attention. Like a sumer mom, Machli protected her cubs as she fought  with a giant crocodile.   Sita: The First Super Mom Companion of the famous tiger of the park ‘Charger’, Sita  gave birth to 16  cubs in her lifetime before she was  poached. The pair of Charger and Sita brought Bandhavgarh on the wildlife tourism map of the world. The jungle stories revolving around the duo kept the tourist footfall in the pa