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Sugarcane fields alluring big cats

Sugarcane fields around the protected forest areas as well as wildlife sanctuaries are luring the big cats to take shelter in them.

india Updated: Jan 06, 2009 20:50 IST
HT Correspondent

Sugarcane fields around the protected forest areas as well as wildlife sanctuaries are luring the big cats to take shelter in them. Domestic pets and blue bulls in these cultivates areas are providing easy preys to these endangers species and sometimes resulting in fatal attacks by big cats upon human beings as in Kaanp -Tanda area near Kishunpur wildlife sanctuary on Sunday last. Availability of easy kills around sugarcane fields has provoked the big cats to shun protected forest areas. However, the dangerous trend of the big cats straying into sugarcane fields has exposed them to even more dangerous threat that is man- animal conflict, in which the ultimate sufferers are wild species.

The available data reveals that nearly half a dozen tigers and leopard have lost their lives in 2008 whether in accidents or in man-animal conflicts after they ventured out of their natural habitat. It is still afresh in public memory how a young leopard strayed into sugarcane fields in Dhaurehra range and later into populated areas, killing dozens of pets and five persons in a row.

The leopard was later cornered and burnt alive in Belihar village on May 8, 2008. Nearly two years back, an old tigress ventured out from forests of Kishunpur sanctuary and took shelter in sugarcane fields near Kaanp-Tanda, killing three persons in quick sequence.

The tigress was later declared man-eater and shot dead. Even at the end of 2008, the sugarcane fields lured a young tiger to come out and take shelter in sugarcane field in November 2008. The animal strayed into open fields of Kheri, Sitapur, Barabanki, Lucknow and crossed over to Faizabad. Even the current year started with a tiger straying into sugarcane fields in Tanda under south Kheri range on Sunday, where it killed a 13-year boy.

Eminent wildlife conservationist and convener of Terai Nature Conservation Society (TNCS) Dr. Vijay Prakash Singh told Hindustan Times said, "Inadequate habitat management and depleting prey base in the protected areas has forced the big cats to come out in search of food and shelter. Dense sugarcane crops in the close vicinity of the protected areas have served as biggest allurement for big cats."

The big cats are making sugarcane fields their hideout as they provide both shelter and easy prey, Dr Singh added.

Noted wildlife conservationist Dr. Jaswant Singh Kaler said, "Most of the human-animal conflict cases in Kheri as well as in other parts have been reported only when the harvesting of sugarcane crops starts."