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Monsoon Magic At Bandhavgarh Tiger Reserve

  Barely a week before Bandhavgarh national park closed down in June for three months, a large number of wildlife lovers visited the park. Many of them returned disappointed as there was no tiger sighting while  asmall number of visitors was still lucky to have some wonderful “chanced sighting “of the big cat. Like the one in Tala range. Barely a week before Bandhavgarh national park closed down in June for three months, a large number of wildlife lovers visited the park. as she took mud bath for a while amd also quenched thirst before proceeding to meet her four 5-month old cubs hidden in a cave deep in the jungle. Rare tiger sighting happens during the monsoon when plenty of water is available in every nook and corner of the jungle and the green forest cover revives after a few showers diminishing the chances of tiger sighting even if it is sitting very close in the bushes.But the showers have left a magical touch in the jungle. Jungle Make Over   After the pre-monsoon showers, the 

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

Stone Pelting on Tiger Cubs :Kanha Pench Corridor

 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 

Stone Pelting on Tiger Cubs :Kanha Pench Corridor

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. The chief conservator of forests Seoni SS Udde confirmed that, “it happened near a village ( Belgaon) in Kanha Pench corridor.” He said that   about 50 families live in the forest patch and most of them were dependent on the forest for their livelihood. 

Also read:  Tiger Corridor : Now Satpuda Melghat National Parks Connectivity At Risk 

Udde said that there was movement of 15 to 17 tigers in the area. Besides,  leopards, sloth bears   and carnivores like hyenas also move . Earlier in the month, there were two cases of man -animal conflict in the same village when big cats mauled villagers. They said such cases were on the rise .The villagers said they were tigers who attacked them erlier this month. But  the chief conservator said,“a leopard injured some villagers leading to aggression for the big cats”. Referring to the stone pelting on cubs, he said, they ( villagers) definitely did not want to kill the cubs and no one was punished. “When we reached the spot, almost 5000 people had assembled. The cubs were rescued without tranquilization and shifted to Kanha tiger reserve”, he said. With terror in their eyes, the cubs were still  looking shocked and haunted by the mob attack two days after their rescue. To trace their mother, camera traps have been placed in the jungle where the cubs were rescued . 

Human Animal Conflict on the Rise  

Stone Pelting on Tiger Cubs :Kanha Pench Corridor

With a tiger occupancy of 76% in the forest corridor, the Kanha-Pench corridor in the Satpuda Maikal hill ranges forms one of the most crucial tiger conservation units of the world, as it is still a contiguous forest patch of 16,000 square kilometers. Besides, out of the 601 tigers in Central India, more than 120 tigers were reported from the Kanha-Pench landscape, WWF report said. Data suggested the extensive use of this forest corridor by tigers and other co-predators. Among all anthropogenic pressures, livestock grazing seemed the most extensive across the corridor where more than 440 villages are located. As the government failed to provide alternative livelihood options, livestock grazing, collection of fuel wood and collectionof minor forest produce also take  place along the corridor. 

Also read: Deadly Train Tracks Threaten Tiger Corridor In MP 

Increasing human and cattle population along the corridor have also resulted in escalated human-wildlife conflict issues, which affect the socio-political will in stepping up wildlife conservation efforts at the landscape level. Even otherwise, wildlife conservation doesn't seem to be on the priority list of our politicians. In addition to community dependency and legal timber extraction by the government, several linear developmental projects such as broadening of roads and broad gauge conversion of railway lines passing through the corridor are posing greater threats to corridor connectivity. Mushrooming of tourist hotels and resorts adjacent to both Kanha and Pench Tiger Reserves also hamper the movement of dispersing wildlife in the corridor.    

WWF Recommends Livelihood Options to Villagers 

Stone Pelting on Tiger Cubs :Kanha Pench Corridor

After the proposal of diversion of about 70 hectares of forest land falling within the Kanha-Pench corridor for conversion of the Nainpur-Balaghat narrow gauge section to broad gauge, WWF ( World Widelife Fund )  carried out a survey. Though the gauge conversion continued, the WWF recommended “ no conversion”. It even  recommended frequency and movement of trafficon the existing road next to the railway line. 

Also read: Corbett Controversy: Misplaced Priorities of Politicians

 The stone pelting  incident also highlighted heavy dependency of villagers on forests for their sustenance. Large number of them are  plucking tendu leaves .Among other measures for the preservation of the  corridor, the WWF  recommended sustainable livelihood options to the local stake holders in the corridor to reduce fuel wood dependency. As the author of the WWF report and recommendations ,senior coordinator, Tiger Conservation at WWF-India, Joseph Vattakaven concludes, “The Kanha-Pench Corridor is one of the few extensive tracts of wildlife habitat covering an area of over16,000 sq km. Such a significant corridor should be further protected ratherthan allowing development projects to fragment and deteriorate its utility.” 

Banner Image source Pench National Park 

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