Nagpur: The fact that the number of tigers in Tipeshwar Sanctuary is increasing fast is creating a major problem not only for villagers nearby but for the big cats as well. Due to lessening of the habitat, the tigers are foraying into nearby farms in search of prays. The phenomenon is occurring fue to breakfown of chain of food.
The feline in the 15,000 hectare sanctuary has always been a terror for farmers and farm labourers. Recently, in a shocking incident, Kobbai villagers adjoining Tipeshwar Wildlife Sanctuary took to sticks and stones to shoo away a tigress with her two sub-adult cubs that had come to feed on a cattle carcass. The tigress from Tipeshwar with four 18-month-old cubs strayed out of the sanctuary. For the last 4-5 months, the tiger family was frequenting farms and fringes of Sunna, Andharwadi, Kopai, Kopamandi and Kobbai villages close to the sanctuary. All these hamlets are in 2-3 km radius from the sanctuary. The tigers have also killed at least seven bovines in the last four months.
According to sources, the Tipeshwar Sanctuary currently hosts around 20 tigers of which seven are full-grown adults, 10 are sub-adults and three are cubs. In the 15,000 hectare sanctuary, maximum 7-8 tigers can co-habit. But the number of the big cat has more than doubled forcing the hunter come out of the sanctuary and foray into man’s land. No surprise, incidents of man-animal conflict are on the rise.
The tigers travel to nearby villages in search of prays such as wild boar, deer, bovine cattle etc. The tigers cross several villages, agricultural fields and habitations nearby Tipeshwar Sancuary. The big cats have not entered into any conflict with humans except the cattle kills that they made for survival and an isolated avoidable incidence of human attack when villagers approached very close to the tiger in the district.
The safety aspect of tigers in Tipeshwar is all the more important as any infection could prove disastrous owing to the density of their population. The Sanctuary, spread over just 143 sq km of dry deciduous forest, is home to about 20 tigers of different ages and sizes and infection could spread comparatively faster. Tipeshwar is closely linked to tiger conservation in Kawal Tiger Reserve (KTR) in former united Adilabad district in Telangana as the overflowing population in the former crosses over to the latter ambling through the corridor which links the two. A tigress which had crossed Penganga river demarcating the border between the two States and entered Bheempur forests, apparently headed towards KTR a couple of months ago is now back in the sanctuary in Maharashtra, according to sources.
This is a wake-up call for forest officials. The memories of tigress Avni, who was shot dead owing to severe man-animal conflict in the same division, are still fresh. To avoid Avni-II, both wildlife and territorial wings need to work coordinately and department should immediately release cattle kill compensation,” sources said.