Survey in Sunderbans on tiger prey base
Monotosh Chakraborty, TNN 22 July 2009
BONNY CAMP (SUNDERBANS): The prey base in the Sunderbans has finally come under the scanner. The state forest department has launched an extensive survey to check if the number of deer and wild boar has dropped drastically, forcing tigers to stray into villages.
Last Saturday, an adult male tiger was found dead at Chargheri in Gosaba. Two cobras were found in the animal's stomach.
The entire forest area in the subdivision is being surveyed to check if there has been a decrease in prey animals. Footprints of deer and boars are being counted. Pugmarks are being studied as well to check if the tiger density has gone up in certain areas leading to a prey shortage. "There is no evidence yet that there has actually been a prey shortage, but we must try to find that out. The survey is on. We have also decided to release prey animals that are now in captivity," said Subhendu Bandyopadhyay, DFO, South 24-Parganas.
To begin with, 22 deer will be released in the forest from the Jharkhali rehabilitation centre. It will also be checked if poachers have been entering the forest area in the guise of fishermen. "We have started scanning the fringe areas and will keep an eye on the fishermen. There will be a strict vigil against poaching. We have started a search to check if traps are being laid to catch deer," Bandyopadhyay added.
Termed as "protection monitoring protocol", the vigil will continue for several more weeks. "During the monitoring exercise, we will also try and assess the damage that might have been caused by Cyclone Aila," the DFO said.
The South 24-Parganas forest division has been running two medical camps at cyclone-affected Deulbari and Jharkhali. An ultrasound machine has been installed for Aila victims at the Jharkhali camp. "The camp is attended by around 700 people every week," said Bandyopadhyay.