|A tiger in Bandhavgarh National Park|
Recently, Bandhavgarh National Park has been brought to the news regarding two sub-adult tigers who were declared man-eaters and sent to Van Vihar Zoological Park in Bhopal. The two cubs were captured after a forest guard was killed in a tiger attack last week. His half-eaten torso was found near the Haradia Forest Camp in the national park's Tala range. Before that, two people were killed by the big cats but neither were eaten. The two cubs, aged about two years and five months, were born to a tigress named Mirchahani in 2009. Sources said they were learning to hunt and survive.
|Bandhavgarh National Park with Bandhavgarh Fort in the back|
According to Field Director C.K Patil, the cubs had to be taken to the zoo for fear of retaliation by villagers. However, tiger expert Belinda Wright pointed out the root of the problem. She stated that chain-link fencing is intensifying the man-tiger conflict in the reserve. She further added that it has severely restricted the passage for tigers and other wild animals within the reserve. And due to limited space in the area, sub-adult tigers are forced to move out into surrounding villages. In addition to that, wildlife experts argued that a juvenile tiger sent to a zoo would not be able to hunt for itself and locking up such animals for the remainder of their lives would be a huge blow for wildlife conservation. They further added that there was no proper evidence to conclude which tigers had killed and eaten the forest guard. They even pointed that according to the National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA), a tiger is declared a man-eater only after it has killed and eaten three people. Ms. Wright also stated that heavy presence of forest personnel within the national park has made it susceptible to attacks. Adding to that, wildlife scientist Raghu Chundawat said that there should be proper planning on how to handle such wild animals and that sending them to a zoo is not the solution. He felt that the problem of shrinking tiger habitat versus the increasing tiger population across India requires an immediate policy decision.
|Shesh-Saiya statue in Bandhavgarh|
I'm also very appalled and disgusted by the fact that these two tiger cubs were taken to a zoo without any proper proof to show whether they really were man-eaters or not. The question is if they had killed and eaten that one forest guard, why did they not eat the previous two victims? I feel that this matter should be thoroughly investigated, but at the same time, special attention should be turned towards Bandhavgarh. It has been pointed out that chain-link fencing is limiting the amount of space for the wildlife. In turn, many animals, including tigers, are forced to venture out to nearby village areas. I believe that chain-link fences should be removed from areas frequented by wild animals. However, it is important to set them up around the perimeters of villages in order to minimize any human-wildlife conflicts. Also, there should be a certain limit on the presence of forest personnel in the forests. This way, there would be less chances of attacks on forest guards. I also happen to agree with Dr. Chundawat that there should be proper methods in handling such animals. Just locking them up in zoos on suspicions of being man-eaters is not always the solution. One has to have solid evidence in proving whether the culprits really are man-eaters or not. Bandhavgarh National Park is said to have up to sixty tigers, making it one of the most successful places regarding tiger conservation. However, the shrinking of habitat combined with the ever-increasing tiger population makes the place prone to man-tiger conflicts where either humans or tigers could be killed one way or another. This why it is crucial to help conserve the tiger habitat, in order to avoid such situations.
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