Maharashtra chief wildlife warden permits capture of Yavatmal tigressUpdated: Sep 22, 2020, 09:24 IST
The Maharashtra principal chief conservator of forest (PCCF-wildlife) issued orders on Monday evening to capture a tigress involved in man-animal conflict in Yavatmal district.
The decision comes two days after a woman (60) was mauled to death by the tigress at an agricultural field near Andharwadi and Pattanbori villages, which are located adjacent to Tipeshwar Wildlife Sanctuary.
State forest department officials said the tigress was being routinely spotted through camera trap images moving across villages such as Andharwadi, Koparmandvi, Vasari, and Kobai in Pandharkawada Forest Reserve. The animal’s movement has sparked panic and fear among villagers.
On September 4, the tigress had attacked a farmer, but he luckily escaped with injuries.
The Wildlife Protection Act (WLPA), 1972, stipulates that the chief wildlife warden or PCCF of a state can declare a wild animal protected under Schedule 1 of the WLPA a threat or danger to human life by invoking section 11 (1) (a) of the Act.
Nitin Kakodkar, PCCF-wildlife, Maharashtra, said, “I have issued an order for the capture of the tigress. The tigress (T2C1) has been identified as one of the cubs of dominant female T2, a resident tigress of Tipeshwar Wildlife Sanctuary.”
The tigress has been spotted near these villages since July and also seen multiple times in areas with human habitation, mostly in agricultural fields, said Kakodkar.
“The tigress has been involved in two conflict incidents with humans and at least six livestock (cattle and goats) have been killed in the past two months,” he said.
“We have deployed teams from the Special Tiger Protection Force (STPF), who were sent from Melghat Tiger Reserve. Rapid rescue units and five range officers are also monitoring the situation. Villages have been advised not to venture close to forest areas or send their cattle for grazing until the tigress is captured.”
The first attack by the tigress was reported on September 4. A group of local villagers met state forest minister Sanjay Rathore requesting him for the animal’s immediate capture.
Later, the minister directed the officials to initiate necessary measures to curb further incidents of a man-animal conflict.
SV Ramarao, chief conservator of forest (CCF) (Yavatmal), said, “We have been communicated verbally about the PCCF’s approval. We are awaiting the official letter before commencing the operation to capture the animal. The operation is limited to a radius of up to five kilometres (km) and the animal is regularly observed in our camera traps laid out across the area.”
The latest incident has been reported in Ralegaon-Pandharkawada district, where tigress T1 or Avni was killed in 2018 under questionable circumstances by two private hunters hired by the state forest department after the animal was said to have killed 13 people.
This is the sixth order to capture a tiger involved in human-animal conflict in Maharashtra this year, of which four have been captured to date.
The first incident was reported in May when a tiger from Brahmapuri was captured in Gondia district. The animal was said to have killed four persons across two forest divisions.
The next two cases were recorded in June where a sub-adult male tiger had killed five people since February. The tiger was captured from the buffer area of Tadoba-Andhari Tiger Reserve.
While an adult tigress that had entered a house in Nagbhid range of Brahmapuri was captured on June 22. Both these captured tigers died at Gorewada rescue centre in Nagpur due to old age and septicaemia.
On July 19, a three-year-old male tiger (NT-1) was tranquilised and captured by the state forest department authorities at Talodi range in Chandrapur district’s Bramhapuri forest division. The officials said the tiger was responsible for the death of three persons in June and was also sent to Gorewada rescue centre.
In January, Kakodkar had issued an order to capture a tiger involved in a conflict at the Chandrapur Thermal Power Station (CTPS). Though the order lapsed, it was not extended because the tiger had moved away from the area, the PCCF said.
“Operations are underway to capture another tiger (RT1) at Rajura in Central Chanda division since February. The tiger is said to have killed six villagers. The consent for capture has been renewed, but the tiger has managed to elude our trapping efforts so far,” said Kakodkar.
Maharashtra has reported 47 human deaths due to wild animal attacks this year, including 29 because of conflict with tigers , the officials said.