New Delhi/Pilibhit, Oct 3 (IANS) While India launched its third Wildlife Action Plan on Monday with the focus on reducing human-animal conflict, a man was killed by a tiger in Pilibhit Tiger Reserve (PTR), making him the 17th victim this year, one of the highest tolls in any national park.
The tiger, identified as a sub-adult male, did not prey on 45-year-old Bablu Sardar ruling out the tiger being a man-eater.
Sardar, who hailed from Neuria village near Mahof range of the tiger reserve, died on Sunday night, officials told IANS on Tuesday.
Though the villagers claim that the man was killed by the tiger near a sugarcane field, where he went to chop grass, a probe has found that the victim ventured 2.5 km inside the forest area.
The tiger must have seen the human intervention as a territorial threat and attacked him, officials said.
This, however, aggrandises the problems of the forest officials, who now count on taking offensive measures to stop people from entering the protected forest areas — most such incursions leaving people dead.
According to records, 33 people were killed by tigers in 2013-14, while 28 were killed in 2014-15 throughout the country.
In Pilibhit Tiger Reserve, all the 17 incidents had happened in different areas of the forest with at least four different tigers involved, one of which was declared a man-eater in February this year and sent to Lucknow zoo, after it killed five persons.
Most of the cases involved humans entering the forest areas either to collect timber or other forest produce, forest officials said.
However with a narrow geography, and with fringe and buffer close to the town, tigers often venture into the town and village areas with one tiger turning up near the district court while it was in session in July this year.
“Yes, this is the 17th incident this year and a matter of concern but these incidents must not be connected as they are different cases and happen for different reasons,” Conservator of Forests V.K. Singh of Pilibhit district told IANS.
Singh added that the tiger attacks occurred as people had been venturing inside the forest area for collecting forest produce.
“This tiger had been living in isolation, as it was earlier ousted by a dominant male from a different range. It’s over protective of this new range that it has formed. It’s thus very important to stop people from entering the forest region around Mahof range,” Singh said.
He added that after the person was killed inside the forest, people dragged the body out and kept it near a sugarcane field in order to show that he was killed outside the forest and they could ask for compensation.
“His shirt and timber collection was found about 2.5 km inside the forest area, which also happens to be the area of this sub-adult male,” said Singh.
“Sugarcane-Tigers” — a common term used in the forests of Terai region is a major cause of the human-wildlife conflict in the region as tigers see sugarcane fields as natural grasslands.
The forest officials said that due to excessive human intervention, the tigers, especially near the fringe areas, are getting increasingly restive leading to conflict.
“We are going to take offensive measures against the villagers who enter the forests. Pilibhit has enough prey-base for the feline and thus tigers don’t venture out. But people often go inside and become victims. We have to check that and take strong measures to stop it,” the forest official told IANS.
Man-animal conflict cases are on the rise in the Terai region, including areas of Pilibhit, Lakhimpur-Kheri and Bahraich districts, mostly due to encroachment and settlements in and around the forest areas.