FIVE TIGERS have made the premises of the Chandrapur Super Thermal Power Station (CSTPS) their home, worrying forest and MAHAGENCO officials.
The tigers, a mother and her four cubs aged about two years, have been sighted in the thickly vegetated ash-bund area of the power station, where they have been staying for the past 18 months. The authorities are clueless about what to do with them and what will happen when the cubs separate from the mother.
“The family has been staying in the area for about one-and-a-half years and has become used to human presence. It survives on cattle straying from nearby villages. The cubs are about two-year-old now,” said Range Forest Officer Santosh Tiple. “They are undeterred by the human presence. But so far no conflict has arisen,” he added.
Tiple said the ash-bund area was towards one end of the sprawling 11,000-hectare CSTPS premises and has thick vegetation, including weeds and grasses. “The residential buildings of employees are, however, about five kilometres away, which is apparently a safe distance but the authorities are worried,” he said.
“Our maintenance staff have to venture into the area,” said CSTPS Deputy Chief Engineer (Administration) M A Parchake. Asked what will happen when the cubs separate from their mother, Principal Chief Conservator of Forest (Wildlife) A K Mishra said, “Tigers don’t follow fixed guidelines. They have their own ways to deal with the situation. So it is quite possible that they will find a way out.”
Whether he feared any man-animal conflict, Mishra said, “We have told CSTPS authorities to take certain measures like de-weeding the area, ask people not to inadvertently venture into a possible conflict situation and bridge the gaps in the compound wall. Also there are reportedly some meat shops nearby and the authorities concerned will have to remove them.”
“Tigers have been moving in areas close to Chandrapur city as there is a thick forest all around. So, it is possible that the cubs might go to other areas to carve out their own territories. But we can’t predict anything. We will deal with the situation as it unfolds,” he said.
Chandrapur district has a whooping 100-plus tiger population of which only 44 are in the Tadoba Andhari Tiger Reserve (TATR). An equal number exists in the Bramhapuri division forest. Thus, there are more tigers in the non-Protected Areas (non-PAs) than in PAs, often leading to major man-animal conflicts.
As reported by The Indian Express, 11 people have been killed this year so far in attacks by wild animals, nine by tigers. “A tiger family making the CSTPS premises its home is a clear indicator that the growing tiger population is desperately trying to get a foothold in uncharted areas outside the protected and buffer forests. More often than not, these are shrubby or degraded forests. Though it augurs well from a conservation point of view, it’s a much more difficult challenge from the point of view of managing the man-tiger conflict,” said Nitin Desai, Central India Director of the Wildlife Protection Society of India.