With tigers on the prowl, Lucknow farmers seek security to harvest their crop
As many as 256 villages are located on the boundary of the tiger reserve. A majority of the villagers are farmers who have their fields beside the forest reserve. The proximity to the reserve, which houses around 50 tigers, makes these farms vulnerable to man-animal conflictsUpdated: Nov 25, 2018 08:03 IST
Marginal and small farmers in villages near the Pilibhit Tiger Reserve (PTR) have decided to ask forest officials to provide them armed guards as they prepare to harvest their sugarcane and paddy crops.
As many as 256 villages are located on the boundary of the tiger reserve. A majority of the villagers are farmers who have their fields beside the forest reserve. The proximity to the reserve, which houses around 50 tigers, makes these farms vulnerable to man-animal conflicts. Over 20 people have lost their lives in tiger attacks near the PTR since last year. At least seven tigers are said to be present in sugarcane fields outside the forest, lurking as a potential threat to farmers.
“There is constant danger of being attacked by tigers while working in the fields. But we have to go to the fields to harvest our crops and we need protection,” said Danish Khan, a farmer of Pipariya village located close to the reserve. “Majority of the villagers have sugarcane and paddy crops ready to be harvested,” he added.
Danish’s concern is shared by other villagers. “Two people of our village were killed by tigers last November . Such an incident can happen again and we do not have money to arrange security,” said Samarth Verma, a young farmer of nearby Pipariya Santosh village.
The farmers have decided to draft a formal letter addressed to the forest department and district administration, listing their demand.
“We do not want personal security to move around with us. Instead, we want forest officials to do their duty and ensure that tigers do not come out of the forest and attack us,” said Samarth.
The demand, though practical, will be too much for the understaffed forest department, which is already engaged in a search operation for stray tigers and managing the visitors at the reserve. So the foresters are relying only on awareness to prevent such attacks.
“We do not have enough staff to ensure security for all the villages, but such attacks can be prevented easily if the villagers are aware about how to avoid them,” said Adarsh Kumar, divisional forest officer of the reserve. “We have formed teams that are going from village to village, informing people about tigers and techniques used to prevent a tiger attack. We cannot do much beyond it,” he added.
First Published: Nov 25, 2018 08:03 IST