Nepal river turns Dudhwa into watery grave for wildlife
Manjari Mishra & Bipin Chand Agarwal11 October 2009, 06:07am IST
LUCKNOW/ BAHRAICH: With their habitat under two meters of water, survival poses a tough challenge to tiger and leopard cubs in Dudhwa Tiger Reserve of Uttar Pradesh. Flood situation in Bahraich and Pilibhit has worsened dramatically over the past three days after Nepal released over 5 lakh cusec of water into Sharda and Ghagra rivers last Tuesday.
The sudden deluge has left at least 1,200 villages in the two districts totally marooned and as evacuation and rescue of villagers naturally takes precedence for local administration, only the fittest in the animal kingdom may survive the ordeal.
Forest officers are already in a spot as reports of at least two leopard cubs helplessly swept along current reached Katraniya Ghat sanctuary last Thursday.
Villagers in Mangalpurva and Matahi hamlets told TOI on Saturday that they clearly spotted the cubs speeding along with water current and reported it to authorities. Flood waters poses no threat to adult cats tigers and leopards but the safely of cubs has led to much anxiety in the department.
At least 16 tigers cubs were sited this year alone. The siting had sent the spirits soaring in Dudhwa and Katarniya Ghat which had registered a steady decline since its hay days in 1995.
Chief conservator of forest BK Patnaik has already summoned expert help from WWF and pressed elephants into service with forest rescue team. “Our men” he said “are keeping a round-the-clock vigil he,” said. However, fearing much harm could already have been caused to the little ones, experts say that the extent would be realised only after the water receded.