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NBWL request for 'relief package' riles experts

                                                                                                       The Pioneer, New Delhi, 19th april, 2013

There have been eight cases of human deaths by big cat near Tadoba Tiger Reserve in Maharashtra during past eight days. The latest on Thursday was that of a 50-year-old woman in leopard attack.

While a 12-year-old girl got killed in leopard attack near Payali village near Maharashtra’s Tadoba Andhari Tiger Reserve (TATR) in Chandrapur district on Wednesday, a 65-year-old died in tiger attack in Umred-Karhandla Wildlife Sanctuary. This was preceded by four more deaths in leopard attacks near the area from April 12 to April 10. A 50-year-old man near Tadoba Reserve got killed by tiger while collecting Mahua flowers.

Alarmed by the situation, the standing committee member of the National Board For Wildlife Kishore Rithe has requested a “special package” from the PM who is also a Chairman of National Board for Wildlife. The copy of the letter has been given to Minister of Environment and Forests Jayanthi Natarajan and Planning Commission Deputy Chairman Montek Singh Ahluwalia.

Analysing the situation, Rithe has pointed out, “Carnivores who are not familiar to human presence inside Tadoba, when disperse in buffer, tend to attack villagers who go for extracting minor forest produce (MFP) or livestock grazing.

This package should thus be aimed at implementing “alternate livelihood programme” for MFP and livestock dependent families living in “buffer villages” and in “wildlife corridors”.

The programme should be run according to approved “village micro plans” to be implemented by village eco-development committees or joint forest management committees, letter states. At least one tribal youth from the affected families should get the benefit of this programme. This would thus discourage old people and young children from going to the forest for MFP collection, Rithe said.

Experts have pointed out that there are around 40 to 50 tigers inside the TATR and equal number of tigers in buffer area as well as “wildlife corridor” with nearest Protected Areas as Umred-Karandla Sanctuary towards north and Chaparala Sanctuary towards south.

According to official figures, there have been 83 human deaths in Chandrapura district alone along with 5,861 livestock loss from 2008. The situation is thus really grim and it calls for more attention than simply releasing compensation package, added the experts.