New Delhi: The National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA) has issued norms to ensure tigers killing farm animals are quickly identified and controlled to reduce human-tiger conflict.
The standing operating procedure to deal with tiger depredation on livestock also suggests quick compensation to avoid revenge killing of tigers.
The aim is to ensure “appropriate action to deal with livestock carcasses being fed upon by tigers, to avoid undue interference with the natural process prevailing in the habitat, while avoiding their casualty/injury, besides safeguarding general public and field staff. In case of livestock depredation by tiger/leopard, the carcass should not be removed from the site but should be allowed to be eaten in full by the carnivore to prevent a recurrence of such depredation in the area. A mechanism for incentives to the villagers/informers, livestock graziers for cattle kill may also be developed," according to the standing operating procedure.
It said prompt payment of compensation should be done to the affected people.
“Ensure unobtrusive guarding/monitoring of the kill to allow feeding of the carcass (if not close to a human settlement) besides safeguarding from poisoning from villagers (for revenge killing)," it added.
About 100,000 tigers roamed the forests of the world in 1900, but their numbers dwindled steadily, hitting a low of 3,200 in 2010, when the last estimates were compiled. But a report in April 2016 by WWF and Global Tiger Forum revealed that globally the number of tigers in the wild has increased to 3,890. About 2,226 of them are in India across 50 tiger reserves.
The recovery in the tiger population was largely due to conservation efforts such as Project Tiger, which was launched in 1973 after the tiger population in India fell below 300 across nine tiger reserves. But proper conservation and protection of the tiger has led to India now having about 60% of the world’s tigers.
But, unfortunately, about 30-40% of India’s tigers are outside tiger reserves, which makes their conservation difficult and also results in more human-tiger conflict.
Dwindling forest cover that connects these tiger reserves and acts as tiger corridors have also affected tiger conservation efforts.
There were a total of 73 incidents of tiger attacks on humans between 2013-14 and 2016-17 (till 27 July), according to data provided by environment minister Anil Madhav Dave to the Lok Sabha in August 2016.
The attacks on humans or farmer’s livestock often lead to villagers killing tigers.
The standing operating procedure prepared by NTCA, which is the nodal authority for tiger conservation and protection India, is aimed at addressing such issues. It recommended that the first 24 hours after detection of a livestock carcass are critical from observation point of view as tiger could return to the kill to finish feeding.
“If, however, this does not happen, the livestock remains/rejects need to be incinerated completely by burning to prevent spread of infectious diseases to humans and other animals. The area also needs to be sanitized with chemicals/flaming to destroy any disease causing spores," it added.
The guidelines also suggested that it the area is historically prone to such incidences, detailed research work has to be carried out in order to assess the reasons for the frequent tiger emergencies in the area.
The standing operating procedure further suggested local administration should take steps to avoid crowding by mobs and, if the situation demands, they can impose section 144 of the Criminal Procedure Code to maintain law and order.
“This is essential to avoid agitation/excited local people surrounding the animal spot which hampers movement of the animal back to the wild as well as capture operation (if required), leading to serious injuries on people and staff," it added.