Villagers use fishing nets to keep big cats at bay
5 Jul 2009, 0344 hrs IST, Debamoy Ghosh, TNN
HINGALGUNGE (NORTH 24-PARGANAS): Sonai Mondal had a tiring day finding a fishing net not to fish, but to keep tigers at bay.
Sonai had gone around the Par-Gumti Bazaar area in search of a net since the morning till late afternoon. Primarily a fishing village in the Sunderbans, Par-Gumti's residents can no longer fish as saline water flooded their bheris when Cyclone Aila ravaged their village. And now, tigers are adding to villagers' woes. So, villagers like Sonai are using fishing nets to guard against the big cats. They believe tigers cannot tear through these nets into their homes.
"From our experience, we know that tigers can't tear this net," said Sonai. So, fishing nets are being tied around houses and cowsheds in the village to prevent possible tiger attacks. Villagers know that the big cats, being good swimmers, can stray into their village at any moment.
Lying on the banks of the river Raimangal, a tributary of the Ichhamati, is Hingalgunge, in North 24-Parganas. Adjacent to it is Shamsernagar, which like all villages on the banks of the Raimangal has a history of tiger intrusions.
"The tigers usually swim across the Katakhali Canal. An old tiger had intruded into a village near Shamshernagar in February this year. But it could not tear through a fishing net," said Arup Roy, a schoolteacher in Par-Gumti.
Their are around 3,000 villagers in the Par-Gumti. After Aila, fishing nets are in short supply in the Hingalgunge market as those selling them can't reach the area. So, it has been near impossible for the villagers to purchase the nets. "Moreover, the price of each net is now Rs 180, which villagers can ill afford. So, those without nets can't guard themselves from tiger attacks," said Rina Mondal. Hence, she and others like her are tying their homes with old tattered nets.
Hingalgunge block development officer Prabir Ghosh said, "We have urged NGOs and rotary clubs to come forward and supply nets to the villagers. These can be distributed through panchayats. Besides protecting themselves against tigers, villagers can also use them to fish in the Ichhamati."