Lakhimpur Kheri: Over a dozen tigers have strayed into human settlements near the Dudhwa Tiger Reserve and Kheri forest divisions, prompting forest officials
to devise a multi-pronged strategy involving villagers to check man-animal conflict.
With a 9-year-old boy in Azadnagar village in Sathiana range of the Dudhwa Reserve falling prey to one of the tigers, the park administration and senior forest officials are in no mood to take any chance.
Divisional forest officer (DFO), north Kheri, Kartik Kumar Singh, said over six tigers are present in Palia, north and south Nighasan, Sampurnanagar and Dhaurehra ranges.
Admitting that the presence of so many big cats on the fringes of Dudhwa Reserve in close proximity of human settlements may result in serious man-animal conflict, field
director Shailesh Prasad said, "We have this time devised a multi-pronged strategy to contain the big cats in their habitats".
Primary response teams (PRT) comprising DTR staff, forest and police department officials and expert staff of the Wildlife Trust of India (WTI) have been formed to respond to the incidents of big cats straying into the human settlements, said Prasad.
"Moreover, we have taken the villagers and village heads living in the close vicinity of DTR and reserve forest areas into confidence and deputed several of them to inform us
about the presence of big cats," he added.
"If the presence of a big cat is reported, we will start tracking its movement routes - both pugmark and visual sighting - and through effective combing, attempts will be
made to drive back the tiger," Prasad said.
WTI expert A K Singh, who is heading the WTI teams in Lakhimpur, told reporters that his staff has engaged sociologists to establish healthy communication with the local residents to infuse confidence among them and ensure their cooperation in the monitoring of big cats.
Veterinary doctors and biologists have also been engaged to differentiate between the errant and normal big cats.
Ruling out cane-farming as the sole factor behind the straying of big cats in the fringes of DTR, Prasad said the winter season coincides with the mating season of big cats.
Several pregnant tigress have also taken shelter in the fringes owing to plenty of wild boars in the nearby cane fields who serve as easy preys.
Singh said primary response teams (PRT) would be quite useful in keeping a watch over the big cats and to avert man-animal conflict as well.