‘Tiger Friend’ is perhaps the maiden concept in the country. Mungantiwar said PCCF (wildlife) AK Misra is working on the modalities and the move is to mobilize support for tigers from local people on the lines of ‘Green Army’ for plantations.
“At a time when state’s tiger number is looking up, there have been several tiger deaths due to unnatural reasons, mostly electrocution. ‘Tiger Friends’ basic idea is to educate people living near the forests about the importance of tigers in terms of ecosystem. They need to be told that if there will be no tigers, there will be no forests as all the grass eaters will devour the forests,” said Mungantiwar.
In a detailed advisory, Mungantiwar has also asked forest officials to finalize proposals for continued corridors. He also asked them to prepare a detailed action plan for 121 & 1,184 villages, which are vulnerable for tiger electrocution.
Considering electrocution of tigers a serious issue, Mungantiwar asked PCCF to coordinate with MSEDCL to ensure that farm fences are not electrified. It will now be the responsibility of respective linemen and foresters.
“The series of tiger electrocution deaths portray negative image of the forest department among the people. Hence, officials should be alert while handling such cases and situations,” he added.
The forest minister also called for a dedicated vehicle for patrolling to check menace of electrocution.
Mungantiwar reiterated earlier plans to translocate excess tigers to solve the problem. Officials have been asked to suggest amendments in wildlife laws so that poachers and criminals can get maximum punishment.
“We need to pursue court cases against wildlife criminals seriously. There should be valid arguments to ensure that poachers get maximum punishment so that it proves to be a deterrent,” he said.
Taking a cue from the recent Paoni tigers poisoning case where the tigers were killed as accused did not get timely cattle kill compensation, Mungantiwar wanted that tiger deaths should be probed within 48 hours.
He wanted the officials to display boards about rules regarding cattle and human kill compensation by wild animals. In case of negligence while dealing with such sensitive cases, action should be taken against the staff first by suspending them followed by more harsh action.