CM seeks report on straying tigers
30 Dec 2008, 0402 hrs IST, TNN
KOLKATA: The state government is concerned about the frequent straying of tigers of the Sunderbans into the adjoining villages. Chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee sought a report on this trend from the forest department on Monday.
Chairing a meeting of the Sunderban Development Board, he has asked experts to probe the incidents of straying and also asked the director of the Sunderban Biosphere Reserve to submit a report on them immediately. Those attending the meeting said experts should also check whether the behavioural pattern of tigers in the Sunderbans was changing.
He also wanted to know if the food chain of the tigers has been depleted and if there are deer and boars in adequate numbers in the wild. The chief minister even asked the experts to find out if global warming had anything to do with the straying of tigers.
Sunderbans affairs minister Kanti Ganguly, who was also present at the meeting, said the CM had wanted a proper plan for the tourists as they often enter the core area of the forest, which is just not desirable. "The CM said mushrooming of hotels in the Sunderbans needs to be stopped." Ganguly said Bhattacharjee had also wanted mechanised boats, which ferry tourists to the islands, redesigned as these lead to noise pollution, have no gears and often damage the jetties.
The CM wanted an eco-friendly tourism plan so that big cats are not disturbed by tourists. Even the Centre had directed the state earlier this year to restrict tourists to the Sunderbans non-core area and prohibit random development of hotels in the forests.
Ganguly felt the straying tigers were becoming more ferocious as the number of man-eaters had increased in the last couple of years. He was also alarmed by the number of tigers attacking men.
Some senior forest officials, however, said the number of tigers straying from the forest has not increased much. It's just that the incidents are highlighted more often. "The tigers that have strayed in the past decade were all tranquillized and sent back to the forest," an official said, adding the tigers usually stray in October and November, not so much for food but due to a reduced forest area from 9,600 sqkm to 4,200 sqkm.
Officials claimed that the food chain has not been disturbed as there are boars, deer, water monitors and even fish for the tigers to prey upon.
Forest officials said they have already put up a nylon fence stretching to nearly 64 km to prevent tigers from straying. At some places, the fencing has been damaged by heavy silt deposit and tigers can easily swim through creeks to reach villages. "Electrical fencing cannot be done in the Sunderbans due to the tide," said an official.