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New norms on man-tiger conflict at reserves soon

                                                                                                                                    The Times of India, Pune, 22nd March, 2015

PUNE: Incidents of man-tiger conflict are a burning issue in tiger reserves across the state. With new standard operating procedures (SOP) in this regard soon to be implemented, such situations are likely to be better managed in future, state forest department officials have said.

Officials hope that the new SOPs will prescribe a uniform strategy if a dead tiger is found. This will include instructions about steps to be taken in such a scenario and people to be appointed in the team that conducts the postmortem.

"It will streamline procedures about what must be done. At present, people on the field take decisions according to what they think is best for the situation," said D K Tyagi, chief conservator of forests and field director of the Melghat tiger reserve.

Union minister of state for environment, forests and climate change Prakash Javadekar recently released the new SOPs - on issues including rehabilitation of tigers, orphan tiger cubs and tigers straying into human-dominated landscapes - at a meeting of chief wildlife wardens of tiger range states and field directors of tiger reserves.

The SOPs provide the basic, minimum steps required to be taken at the field level to ensure that incidents of tigers straying into inhabited areas are handled in the most appropriate manner to avoid casualties or harm to human beings, tigers, cattle and property.

"We have not received the details of the new SOPs. As soon as we receive them, they will be implemented at all the tiger reserves in the state," said Sarjan Bhagat, principal chief conservator of forests, (wildlife) and chief wildlife warden of Maharashtra.

During the meeting, Javadekar emphasised the need to bring in new ideas for an empirical and viable approach towards tiger conservation. The minister also announced that the government will introduce e-surveillance of forest areas by drones to curb poaching of tigers.