Nagpur/ Pune: In a serious incident, a 3-year-old tigress on Sunday morning reportedly charged at an open jeep carrying tourists inside Tadoba Andhari Tiger Reserve (TATR). The video clip showing the tigress chasing a vehicle for over 100 metres while tourists loudly pleaded with the driver to speed away is enough to send chills down your spine.
The incident was reported in the Agarzari area, which is located in the buffer zone of TATR. Following this incident, wildlife enthusiasts and experts are demanding an urgent restraint on increased tourism inside tiger reserve areas as more such cases have been reported, wherein tigers have chased vehicles or charged at tourists. The TATR is in Chandrapur district of the State. It is Maharashtra’s oldest and largest national park. It is one of India’s 41 tiger reserves under the ‘Project Tiger’ and was established as the second tiger reserve in the State in 1994-95.
Highlighting the need for responsible tourism, Kishor Rithe, a member of the Maharashtra State Wildlife Board and Founder, Satpuda Foundation, demanded there should be thorough investigation into the incident. He said, “The field director needs to investigate thoroughly if the tigress was instigated or was trapped between the vehicles leaving her with no scope for movement.”
He added if that was the case, then stringent action should be taken against the driver and the guide involved in this incident.
Suresh Chopane, President, Green Planet Society, which is active in Chandrapur district, said 10 years ago, only 60,000 tourists used to visit the TATR annually. Now, this figure has gone up to over 1.5 lakh. Chopane added that earlier, tourists preferred to visit the TATR only during the summer season. However, as the tiger population has gone up and there are 40 to 50 tigers in the core and the equal number of tigers in the buffer zone, tourists are now visiting the tiger reserve even during Diwali. This increased tourism is putting pressure on wildlife.
Chopane added that he had given a proposal to fit a protective cage-like structure on the open jeeps to provide safety to tourists in case of any contingency. He claimed that the forest department has not taken his proposal seriously.
He said earlier, too, two such incidents were reported inside the TATR, wherein tigers had charged at tourist vehicles carrying VIPs. Once the then field director and once the district collector were present in these vehicles.
NR Praveen, Field Director and Chief Conservator of Forest of TATR, told Sakal Times that he has warned drivers and guides to avoid taking vehicles to close proximity of animals. Praveen said, “I have strictly warned guides and drivers that if such incidents occur in the future, we may have to stop tourism completely.”
He added that he convened a meeting of drivers and guides on Monday morning. They have been instructed to maintain a minimum distance of 50 metres from the animal. They have been told to keep some distance between two vehicles ensuring a safe passage to animals.
Watch the video clip here
The video clip showing the tigress chasing a vehicle for over 100 metres in TATR can be viewed at the following link: https://youtu.be/gB5-3io7qnI