Pilibhit attacks offer hope for big cat in Dudhwa
Posted: Tue Sep 07 2010, 06:41 hrs
Lucknow: The tiger attacks in Pilibhit may have led to fear in the district, but it has brought some cheer to the state forest department.
In an area where tiger sightings were rare, the department has identified four tigers and believes there are two more. Although the department is waiting for the results of the tiger census, officials say the presence of tigers in the area indicates their numbers are increasing in the nearby Dudhwa tiger reserve and the animals are expanding their territory.
Since May, eight incidents of tiger attacks have been reported from the Deoria range in Pilibhit and Khutar range in Shahjehanpur district.
Following this, the state forest department set traps and cameras in the area, which zeroed in on four — three tigresses and one adult tiger — as the culprits. The department has sent teams to tranquilise the animals.
The Divisional Forest Officer, Pilibhit, V K Singh, said the last time tiger attacks were reported in this area was in 2003-04. Since then, there were stray tiger sightings. “We have already managed to get the photographs of the man-killer tigers and the pugmarks make it clear that it is not a simple case of tiger moving out of its territory during monsoons,” said Singh. “The incidents started occurring much before the season and the pattern of killing shows these tigers are now establishing territory in the Deoria range.”
Tigers expand their territories only in two cases, said Singh — when their area falls short of prey or the number of tigers increases. “These are adult tigers and since the area is adjoining the Dudhwa tiger reserve, there are chances that the numbers have increased there, resulting in the tigers moving out,” said Singh.
The estimated territory of an adult tiger is 20 sq kms and the area of the Deoria range, where most of the attacks have occurred, is 96.6 sq kms.
“The area is rich in vegetation and small animals, which makes it perfect for the tigers who are searching for fresh territory,” said Singh.
The department, on the suggestion of the National Tiger Conservation Authority, is planning to catch and relocate these tigers. NTCA officials visited Deoria range on Monday and suggested that the forest officials prepare short term and long term plans related to conservation of the big cat in the area.