Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Rise in India's Tiger Attacks Leads to Hunt for Man-eaters

A tiger in Ranthambore National Park

Over the past few weeks, India has been shaken by a surge in tiger attacks claiming lives of twelve people across the country leading to forest officials on the verge of tackling this issue. One example was seen in the town of Ooty in Tamil Nadu, where a tiger had killed three people since January 4. The incident spread fear across the area leading to a cease in tea harvesting, schools being shut down, and tourists keeping away. The state government reacted with a system of camera traps, along with numerous elephant-mounted patrols to hunt down the tiger with hopes of tranquilizing it. Camera footage indicated that its pugmarks were smeared with blood pointing out that it might be injured in some way. On Friday, forest officials proclaimed that they had confined the tiger within a 500-meter space. In Uttar Pradesh's Sambhal district, the forest department is searching for another man-eating tiger that has killed seven people since late December. Among its victims included a 65-year-old man, who was attacked on December 29 marking the beginning of its killing spree. In response, three hunters were summoned to track the tiger down and capture it but there has been no success so far. A forest official named Rupak De stated that the animal has been going without rest and proper food. Furthermore, the Western Ghats of southern India has witnessed a death toll of at least people attacked and killed by tigers in the past seven weeks, out of which two of them were eaten.
A tigress in Corbett National Park

According to Bangalore-based wildlife conservationist Dr. Ravi Chellam, the attacks are an indication that India's conservation efforts are flourishing. He further added that the rise in tiger attacks coincides with the increasing population, which is due to lack of space for the animals forcing them to wander outside their natural habitat and coming into contact with human settlements almost immediately. In addition, villages are drawing closer to the edge of forests at an increasing rate, trespassing into the tiger's habitat. Dr. Chellam also demanded more everlasting planning to prevent future attacks from tigers, pointing out that nobody is considering the need to expand habitat areas to keep up with increasing population of tigers. Daleep Akoi, who owns a tourist lodge in Corbett National National Park, stated that limiting tourism in national parks where there are tigers is not the solution. The reason is because removing tourism would resulting in loosing hundreds of thousands of income for villagers, and force them to turn to hunting and poaching. Instead, he called for more ironclad enforcement of current regulations. He also revealed that several hotels were being constructed illegally in the corridors of nature reserves where tigers are known to meander, in turn increasing the chances of human-tiger conflicts. Mr. Akoi further added that these corridors run through areas where national parks constantly meet unprotected land, and forest officials are not protecting them as they should be. For this reason, India's tiger populations have been spreading outside the boundaries of national parks and into the outer fringes where they are coming into conflicts with people.
A tiger on the banks of the Kabini River 

This article clearly indicates why it is highly crucial to protect various areas on the outer fringes of India's national parks where tigers are known to thrive. India had done an excellent job in increasing its tiger population by taking various necessary measurements to guarantee the animals' survival through combating poaching and the illegal wildlife trade. However, at the same time, many forest officials and others involved have failed to consider the need to increase the tiger's habitat as its population expanded. This has led to incidents of human-tiger conflicts resulting in deaths of several people in parts of India. In addition, many of these national parks consist of corridors that are being used as locations to construct hotels and similar facilities for tourists which further add to the growing concern of human-tiger conflict in the country. A wildlife corridor is designed specifically to allow animals access to lands where they had once disappeared. Furthermore, villages are also being established closer at the forests' edge which in turn puts the villagers in a vulnerable position of human-tiger conflict.
A tiger in Mudumalai National Park

It looks like all the forest officials, over the years, have simply paid attention to primarily protecting the tiger to guarantee that its population would rise but never gave second thoughts about extending its natural habitat outside the national parks. This is why everybody involved in the protection of wildlife must take crucial steps to not just allow populations to increase, but also expand their natural habitats to prevent incidents of human-wildlife conflicts. In the case of India's tiger population, one of the methods should be complete annihilation of tourist hotels illegally built in the wildlife corridors. Furthermore, villagers seeking to establish new settlements must be advised to never, under any circumstances, set up villages near the edges of forests that are part of the tiger's habitat. They should be encouraged to settle in areas that are not known to be frequented by tigers. If suppose a village has been established in an area that has an abundance of wild predators such as tigers, the villagers should be provided with some sort of security to keep them and their livestock safe. The best possibility would be to construct a barrier around the whole perimeter of the village that is strong enough to prevent any wild animal from entering in any way. In addition, entry outside the village boundaries during dawn and dusk should be strictly forbidden since these are usually the times when animals are most active. Had any of these possible methods implemented before, then chances are there would have been little or no panic concerning human-tiger conflicts in India. This is now the time to act against this situation in which both people and animals are coming into conflicts with one another resulting in life-threatening consequences.

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