Updated: May 10, 2020 12:57:05 am
With the beginning of the tendu leaf collection season in Vidarbha, a tiger claimed the life of a tendu collector in Gadchiroli on Saturday.
A 55-year-old man from Kondhala village in Wadsa tahsil of Gadchiroli was killed when he had gone to the forest to collect tendu leaves. “The deceased, Abhiman Zilpe, had gone to the forest early in the morning along with a few women. He had told the women to keep off the place where he was going since the area had a tiger. But he himself became the victim,” Deputy Conservator of Forest, Wadsa, Niranjann Vivarekar told The Indian Express.
This is the second tiger attack of the tendu season. On Friday, a woman was attacked in the neighboring Armori range but escaped narrowly with a shoulder injury.
This is the third tiger attack casualty in Gadchiroli since last month, the first two being reported on April 16 and 24 in the Armori range among mahua flower collectors.
As reported earlier, the mahua season had begun towards the end of March and all the nine victims since then have been mahua collectors. It was feared that with the beginning of tendu collection, the man-tiger conflict in Vidarbha would further escalate.
Vivarekar said, “In my area, tendu collection started about two days ago.”
With Saturday’s incident, the number of deaths in tiger and leopard attacks in the region from March has gone up to 13. Two of the deaths have happened in Gondia, two in Bhandara, two in Gadchiroli, one in Nagpur and six in Chandrapur. Only one of the deaths has been caused by a leopard.
What’s striking about the man-big cat conflict this time is the sudden rise in incidents in Gadchiroli, where attacks have been rare since the district didn’t have a sizeable number of resident tigers till about five years ago. “We now have about 10 tigers, of which at least six are resident and four transient,” said Vivarekar.
Officials are trying to find out if one or more tigers are involved in the four attacks. “We have a tigress with four full-grown siblings of about 18 months in the area. While the three Armori attacks have occurred within five km of each other, the Wadsa attack was about 15 km away. In the last two fatal attacks, we have got trap camera pictures of two different animals. We will have to get pictures for the third fatal attack now,” said Vivarekar.
He claimed that the department has been taking proactive measures to create awareness among people by raising yellow flags in areas roamed by tigers and deploying squads of village youths. “But it is very difficult to check people going for tendu and mahua collection since they earn sizeable money during a short period of about two months,” he said.
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