Catch big cats alive, minister tells officials
23 Jan 2009, 0542 hrs IST, TNN
LUCKNOW: Let the experts and forest officials believe that instances of wild cats sneaking out of the jungles into the cities are a result of urbanisation at the cost wildlife, forest minister Fateh Bahadur Singh sees mischief behind it, if not sheer politics.
Meanwhile, reasons whatsoever, the failure of the forest officials in trapping or terminating the big cats continued to take their toll on innocent humans. In the latest attack, a tiger supposedly spotted in Kumharganj jungles surfaced in Sitapur and attacked a farmer leaving him critically wounded. The other wild cat, limited to Ghazipur for quite some time now, reached Azamgarh by Thursday evening.
However, on Wednesday, forest minister Fateh Bahadur Singh again claimed that the department is making best possible efforts to track the tigers. "Actually we are working round the clock to trap them. We had even chased away the tiger that was spotted in Ghazipur. Officials told me that it has come from Bihar jungles. Our forest teams had even chased it out of UP back to Kaimur jungles but the authorities there again forced the animal back to UP," Fateh Bahadur Singh said.
The only consolation that the minister offered was that the officials have been directed to ensure that the big cats are caught alive. "We will not shoot them. Preferably, we will tranquillise them and put them back in their natural habitat," Singh said, adding that the state government was putting in the best possible efforts to deal with the problem. "I have even asked the officials to ensure round-the-clock tracking of these tigers," he said.
Though the panic struck forest officials are yet to find a logical explanation for the sudden emergence of big cats from forests, wildlife experts believe that apart from the urbanisation factor, it is merely a co-incidence that three tigers are on the prowl in UP. "Wild big cats are often known to stray into villages so there is nothing new about it. The count can only be explained as a pure co-incidence," said a senior forest officer monitoring the trapping of the three tigers.
Wildlife experts, however, see a silver lining around the tiger scare. Explaining the phenomenon, a noted wildlife expert said that probably the count of tigers seems to have increased significantly during the recent past. "This could have led to the young big cats forcing their elderlies out of their territories in jungles to ensure proper food supply for themselves," said the expert seeking anonymity.
Adding to the crisis is the disappearance of buffer belts which segregate the jungles from the suburbs. These have virtually disappeared not only across the state but almost in entire North India, the expert said. These old tigers are hence left to fend for themselves and compelled to prey on livestock in villages, he added.
What supports the experts' opinion is the fact that two of the tigers on prowl are more than middle-aged if not old. However, what puts a question mark on the contention is that one of the tigers is barely two and a half year old.