Population Boom Crushing Wildlife
The surge in incidents of predators straying into villages near Nagarahole and Bandipur underscores the rise in man-animal conflict in Mysore and surrounding regions.
While a tiger strayed into Kalasur village in Bandipur National Park two weeks ago and is yet to be trapped, a leopard was stoned to death in K.R. Nagar when it strayed into a farmer’s sugarcane field. Incidents of tigers straying into villages are a new development in the region where man-elephant and man-leopard conflicts have been well documented.
“The number of tigers has increased in Bandipur and Nagarahole consequent to good protection measures and hence the weak and aged tigers are ejected out of their range in territorial fights. There are about 90 to 105 tigers in the Bandipur-Nagarahole range on a conservative estimate and incidents of tigers straying into human habitation are bound to increase,” according to H.C. Kantharaj, director, Bandipur Tiger Reserve.
He told The Hindu that apart from securing the forests from poachers, forest guards and the anti-poaching squad will have to invest considerable energy and time in capturing tigers which stray into human habitation or else there the local communities living on the fringes of the forests would face issues.
D. Rajkumar of the Wildlife Conservation Foundation and representative of the National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA) pointed out that elected representatives of the affected area are quick to blame the increase in wildlife population for such incidents. But they ignore the critical fact that wildlife habitats have been degraded due to encroachment and human-inducted disturbances.
He said the disturbances includes the growing popularity of temples inside forests, increase in vehicle traffic cutting across both Bandipur and Nagarahole, expansion of agricultural land outside the forests, and the illegal entry of cattle into the forests. While Bandipur has six temples, there are nearly 40 places of worship inside Nagarahole and efforts to shift them will not only require the consent of the villagers but will be a long drawn action plan stretching into years, said Mr. Rajkumar. Though the State government has drawn up a plan to take up rail fencing around critical areas of Bandipur, it may prevent elephants from straying into the adjoining agricultural land. But it will not prevent tigers and other carnivores from entering human landscapes, said Mr. Rajkumar.