Pune: Tiger Man of India, Rajesh Gopal, who was closely associated with Tiger Project for 35 years, told Sakal Times that proactive management is the key to avoid incidents such as the killing of the tigress Avni.
Identified as T1, Avni the tigress is said to have killed 13 villagers and was shot dead near Borati village in Yavatmal on Friday night by a team of Forest Department officials and civilian hunter Asgar Ali. Wildlife activists are up in arms saying that the Forest Department did not try enough to tranquilise Avani.
Gopal is the Secretary General of Global Tiger Forum, a body which highlights rationale for tiger preservation.
While speaking to Sakal Times, Gopal remarked that shooting the big cat is an anti-conservation step. He asked why the government engaged a private shooter and why the department cannot create its own team for handling such a situation. He said cases of human-animal conflict need to be addressed immediately and the Forest Department should take action after the first case of cattle lifting and so more Rapid Action Teams are needed. He said instead of waiting for one-and-half years, the tigress should have been tranquilised after the first incident and shifted. There is growing human presence in jungles coupled with scarcity of chitals and wild boars and so tigers are coming out in search of food.
He said if tigers stray into human-dominated areas, one step is to take proactive action and the other is control. Collective efforts are needed to reduce dependence on jungle. Locals dwellers near forests should be compensated so they are discouraged from entering jungles for forest products.
Gopal said there are huge changes in land cover and with the increased human presence there is a need to monitor these areas 24x7. He said there should be a cell to enable people to share information round the clock regarding the presence of big cats in human-dominated areas. Gopal added that crop pattern policy needs to be maintained and people staying in bordering areas of jungle should be advised not to make huge changes in crop pattern and avoid crops which may create hideouts for wild animals. The monitoring activities need to involve locals and they should be encouraged with ‘Green Champion’ awards.
Maneka’s resignation demanded
State Forest Minister Sudhir Mungantiwar on Tuesday demanded resignation of Union Woman & Child Welfare Minister Maneka Gandhi. Union Minister Maneka Gandhi took on the State government over the issue of killing of man-eater tiger Avni. She demanded that the Forest Minister be sacked.
Mungantiwar countered her demand saying Maneka Gandhi should resign as there are too many deaths of children happening in the country due to malnutrition. Mungantiwar said deaths of children due to malnutrition are on the rise and the minister should accept the responsibility. “The chief minister will take a decision on my resignation after the prime minister takes similar action against her,” he said.