Poachers, not cyclone, main threat to Sunderban tigers
New Delhi, May 28 (PTI) It is not the cyclone Aila but the threat from poachers which is keeping the West Bengal forest officials on their toes while protecting the Royal Bengal tigers in the submerged Sunderbans area.
The government has taken assistance from the BSF whose personnel along with forest staff are patrolling the region to prevent poachers from taking advantage of the security gaps caused due to breakdown of communication and infrastructure.
"We have intensified vigilance in the region. At least 100 forest personnel are deployed in Sunderban besides around 40 in the deep forests," N C Bahuguna, Chief Conservator of Forests, West Bengal told PTI.
Basic amenities such as food and water are being provided to the cyclone-hit villagers to ensure that they do not turn towards wild animals for food, he said.
Mr. Bahuguna dismissed reports of tiger mortality due to the disaster. "Although much damage has been done since the cyclone arrived, there are fairly good chances that tigers would have survived given their ability to swim ashore," he said.
The official said there has not been a single report of any tiger death so far. Only one tiger that wandered in Jameswar village on Tuesday has been tranquillised and caught.
Mr. Bahuguna, however, said five deer have died so far.
"We will get more information from our staff in the forests once we are able to communicate with them," he said.
Mr. Bahuguna, who is also the director of Sunderbans tiger reserve, said there are around more than 150 tigers in the inaccessible hostile Sunderbans terrains and poachers have been quite active in the region for the past few years.
Last year a tigress was shot dead, while in March a case of poisoning was reported from Sunderbans.
According to a census report conducted last year by the Wildlife Institute of India (WII) the tiger population in the country is 1,411.