Nagpur: The total number of humans killed by tigers in the region in the last nine days beginning April 8 has risen to four.
The total death toll since January now stands at 12, ten of them being from Chandrapur.
While the first two deaths on April 8 and 11 occurred in Chandrapur district, which has been the hotbed of man-animal conflict for the past 15 years, the other two incidents have occurred in unlikely areas of Nagpur and Gadchiroli districts.
The common thread connecting all the incidents is that all four victims had gone into the forest to collect mahua flowers.
As reported earlier, the conflict has resumed after a gap of about 25 days when there was lull due to the stoppage to people’s movement inside forests due to corona lockdown. The obvious reason for the resumption of conflict is the onset of mahua picking season. It will be followed by a hectic tendu collection season likely to start by end of April or beginning of May.
Authorities have been taken by surprise over the latest two incidents. “We haven’t known any death in tiger attacks in PTR for many years now. Monday’s incident has happened apparently because the man had gone 7-8 km deep into the core forest,” said PTR Field Director Ravikiran Govekar.
A girl, however, was killed by a tiger in Madhya Pradesh PTR a few days ago. “We have sought GPS location of the incident. Along with trap camera photos, we will have to see if the tiger involved in two cases could be same,” Govekar said.
Gadchiroli Chief Conservator of Forest Rama Rao said, “Armori never had seen any man-tiger conflict earlier.”
Asked if wild animals may have been moving much more freely due to sudden cessation of human movement in the forest due to lockdown and may now have been moving into unlikely areas, probably leading to a sudden upsurge in conflict after the resumption of human movement, Principal Chief Conservator of Forest (Wildlife) Nitin Kakodkar said, “while it could be true that animals may have been experiencing greater freedom of movement due to lockdown-induced human non-interference, all latest incidents have happened deep inside forests where tiger presence is known. But we will need to factor in the new freedom that they might be experiencing to move into areas they didn’t earlier find comfortable to move in.”