Maharashtra Wildlife Board suggests removal of tigers from industrial areas

An 11-member technical study group formed by the State Board for Wildlife (SBWL) recommended the removal of tigers from Western Coalfields Ltd (WCL) and Chandrapur Super Thermal Power Station (CSTPS), where five to six tigers elected residence.

“These tigers should not be released into the wild. They should be transferred to zoos or tiger safaris. Tiger breeding should not be allowed in this area and operations should be carried out through active collaboration with CSTPS, WCL and other relevant industry authorities, ”SWBL recommended.

Over the past five years, at least six tigers have been documented as having made CSTPS their permanent home. Tigers have been observed to be constantly present and breed in these areas, resulting in a high number of interactions and sightings between humans and tigers.

No less than 10,000 people – employees and their families – work and reside in the power plant area. The CSTPS is connected to the Tadoba-Andhari Tiger Reserve (TATR) by a corridor of coal mines covered with a thick layer of Prosopis plant species and providing a hiding place for tigers. The area also provides a prey base — cattle and wild boar — a thick cover of trees and a nullah that suffices for the basic needs of the tiger population.

Chandrapur District is home to over 200 individual tigers, a significant portion of which inhabit areas outside protected areas (forests) in human-dominated landscapes in the territorial forest divisions of Bramhapuri, Chandrapur and Central Chanda.

The proximity between tigers and humans has led Chandrapur District to become a virtual hotspot for human-tiger conflict in the country. The 11-member committee was formed at the 15th SBWL meeting held on August 7, 2020 to suggest plans to reduce human-tiger conflict in the district.

The committee’s suggestions were approved at the SBWL meeting on Tuesday.

TATR’s tiger population has also been spotted in power plant areas earlier. However, over the past five to six years, these areas have become habitat for a few due to shrinking forest cover, experts said.

The committee also recommended the preparation of a separate wildlife management plan for the Gadchiroli forests to improve wildlife habitat and increase prey populations. The committee noted: “Currently, naturally dispersing tigers are unable to settle in this region despite the presence of good forest cover.”

The report broadly divides the tiger areas in Chandrapur district into four areas and suggests separate measures for each area for management purposes. Zone I includes contiguous forest plots with an area of ​​coexistence, eco-development and wildlife management. Zone II was classified as degraded and smaller forest patches for safe passage for non-breeding tigers and no habitat enrichment. Zone III includes small plots interspersed with villages where the density of tigers is low. Zone IV includes areas such as WCL and CSTPS where the presence of tigers should be discouraged.

The committee also suggested the transfer of custody on a case-by-case basis. Such as where young tigers that disperse in small patches of forest spread through villages, and where tiger density and human-tiger interactions are low but crop depredation is high, they can be relocated into the forest. landscape of central India or other sites fit for tigers and be radio collared.

The committee suggested initiating the process of conservation transfer of a few breeding females from marginal areas of Chandrapur district to potential habitats. Senior Forest (Wildlife) Curator Sunil Limaye confirmed that these tigers will not be transferred to Sahyadri and will only be transferred to the similar / central Indian landscape.

A total of 9,442 conflict incidents were reported from 2005 to March 2020 in the Vidarbha region. Of these, human-tiger conflict incidents accounted for about 58 percent of the total incidents.

Incidents in Vidarbha peaked between 2015 and 2018. The total number of attacks on humans caused by tigers (232) also peaked between 2017 and 2019.

The panel recommended increasing compensation and said a deposit of Rs 25,000 should be paid to the family in the event of serious injury from the attack. Compensation for permanent disability should be increased to Rs 7.5 lakh and should be proportional to 50 percent of the amount of human death. At present it is Rs 5 lakh.