Rajendra P Kerkar, TNN, Feb 7, 2011, 01.19am IST
KERI: For Mano Phale a Dhangar-Gouly from Charavane of Chorla ghat, the presence of a big cat within the Mhadei wildlife sanctuary in Sattari has proved costly. Three buffaloes have been devoured by the feline from 2009 to 2011. Two of them very recently.
Mano Phale, 67, living with his family of four in the jungle of Charavane says, "My family and I have been living amid tigers for several decades. While they have never disturbed us, one tiger killed one of my buffaloes on February 4, 2009, while two more buffaloes were killed on February 3 and 5, this year."
In a bid to avert danger to Phale's family and his livestock, forest officials have instructed him to leave his settlement in Charavane as they may soon become victims of the repeated tiger attacks.
Range forest officer of the Mhadei wildlife sanctuary Vishwas Chodankar, who visited the spot along with RFO of the Keri range Deepak Betkikar, says, "We are aware of the movement of tigers within the sanctuary's area and have already started monitoring them. The two buffaloes killed recently are within the sanctuary's limit and as per law it is difficult to provide any compensation to Phale's family."
On February 3, a pregnant buffalo was attacked by the tiger. The big cat was stopped from dragging the body away by the rest of the buffalo herd. Phale's family buried the corpse of the dead buffalo.
Then on February 5, the tiger attacked one more buffalo, this one at dawn.
Sayitri Phale says, "While searching for the missing buffalo, I was told that a tiger had been sighted by a person working in Chorla ghat. When we reached the waterhole near Kudalachemol we saw the dead buffalo with deep marks on its neck."
Volunteer with Vivekanand Environment Awareness Brigade, Keri, Dasharath Morajkar, says, "We compensated Sai Pingale with a hybrid cow, when she lost her cow to a tiger on September 27, 2009 in Ponsuli. We are hoping to compensate Mano Phale. There is urgent need to help the family on humanitarian grounds."
Amrut Singh of Animal Rescue Squad, Bicholim, while speaking to TOI at Charavane, says, "Tigers in the forest of Mhadei are struggling for survival.
"Availability of prey is also not easy. Disturbances are increasing as the Panaji-Belgaum road that passes through Chorla ghat is over burdened with transportation of trucks."
He added, "Forest department should be cautious to see that the tiger killings are not repeated. The tiger's habitat is badly threatened. We have to save the last few tigers roaming about in the region."
Meanwhile, VEAB members Subodh Naik and Deepak Gawas noticed tiger pugmarks in the reservoir area of Anjunem Irrigation Project.