In Telangana’s Asifabad forests, an alert for man-eating tigers on prowl
Forest officials of Telangana’s Asifabad Kumaram Bheem district on Thursday sounded a high alert in the reserve forest area of the district bordering Maharashtra, following the killing of two tribal youths in a span of 18 days by suspected man-eating tigers.
The killing of a 16-year old girl Pasula Nirmala by a tiger at Mannewada tribal hamlet near Kondapalli village of Penchikalapet mandal on Sunday night triggered panic among the local tribals. The incident happened within 20 km of Digada village, where another 20-year old man Sidam Vignesh was mauled to death by a tiger on November 11.
In both the incidents, the tigers dragged the bodies of victims and abandoned them deep inside the forests after partially eating their flesh.
“According to our preliminary investigation, the tigers involved in the two incidents are different. The first one has moved towards Maharashtra and the second one is moving closely in the Telangana forest range,” Asifabad Kumarm Bheem district forest officer S Santaram said.
Santaram said it was alarming to note that tigers moving in the forests of Telangana-Maharashtra borders have turned into maneaters. “We have not come across man-eating tigers in the district so far. Naturally, the latest incidents are a matter of serious concern,” he said.
According to Santaram, the main reason for tigers attacking human beings was the loss of natural habitat. “Despite our repeated requests, tribal people were going deep into the reserve forest areas and take up “podu” cultivation by felling trees and setting up hamlets there. Naturally, tigers in the area would feel insecure and attack humans,” he said.
Following the two incidents, the forest department authorities issued an advisory to the local tribal villagers in order to prevent attacks by the maneaters.
The forest officers are making announcements in the village using drums to create awareness among villagers on do’s and don’ts they need to follow to prevent incidents of wild animal attacks.
“We have asked them to move in groups when they go inside the forests for harvesting of crops or other agriculture operations. One or two of them should keep a watch on the movement of animals and sound an alert by drum beating or blowing trumpet when they spot wild animals,” the official said.
The authorities also warned tribals not to take their cattle deep into the forests for grazing and restrict themselves within half-a-kilometre from their hamlets. They should invariably carry sticks with them.
The forest officials suggested that the tribals constitute a village protection committee comprising local sarpanch and forest beat officer, which will monitor the movement of tigers and inform the higher officials immediately. All the tribals venturing into forests should inform the protection committee about their movement.
The forest department has already formed special tracking teamsto deal with the maneaters. “A seven-member monitoring committee, as per the Standard Operating Procedure (SoP), of the National Tiger Conservation Authority, has been formed to track and deal with the tigers,” Santaram said.
“We have set up three cages on the corridors and paths of the big cat. He said seven more cages are being brought up. As many as 60 forest officials are on the job to catch the tiger. This apart CCTV cameras were also being set up to track its movement,” he said.
Santaram said there were no traces of the tiger in the nearby areas after Sunday’s incident. “It might have gone deep inside the forests. The CC cameras have not noticed any movement of tiger, nor are there any fresh pug marks in the area,” he said.
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