EVEN as the state Forest Department issued detailed guidelines to its ground staff to control the raging human-tiger conflict in Vidarbha, a tigress killed yet another woman in the Paoni range of Bhandara district on Saturday.
Janabai Mohdarkar, 58, from Khatkheda village was killed by a tigress when she had gone into the dense forest to collect mahua flowers on Saturday morning. With this, the total number of deaths in big cat attacks in Vidarbha during the lockdown period has gone up to nine. The first death had taken place in Gondia district on March 29.
The incident on Saturday was the second one in Paoni range. On April 19, a woman collecting mahua flowers was killed near Savarla village, five km from the spot of the incident.
“A tigress has been moving in this area along with her two cubs, which are about 15 months old. Camera trap images had shown the cubs at the spot on April 19. It is likely that they were involved in Saturday’s incident also. But while the April 19 victim wasn’t eaten, Saturday’s victim was partly eaten,” said a source.
As The Indian Express has reported earlier, all the victims have been mahua flower collectors.
Meanwhile, officials have found that the two fatal attacks in the neighbouring Gondia district on March 29 and April 18 were by the N1 tigress, which is originally from the Brahmapuri divisional forest in Chandrapur district. A capture order was issued for her in January after she was found to have killed three persons in Chandrapur. She, however, had managed to dodge the special teams on her trail.
Principal Chief Conservator of Forest (Wildlife) Nitin Kakodkar has now issued a fresh capture order for her. “She has walked about 100 km from Brahmapuri to reach Gondia forest. I have issued a fresh order to capture her,” he said.
Kakodkar further said, “We have also issued detailed instructions to our ground staff to prevent further attacks as we expect the conflict to intensify during the tendu leaves collection season, set to begin in a few days. But it’s actually very difficult since we are looking at vast forest areas and thousands of people are going in there.”
The ground staff has been asked to focus on the villages near forests and make public announcements, alerting people about the danger and asking them to move in the forest only in groups.
Some instructions listed by Kakodkar are, “People should be asked to go after sunrise and carry long sticks for self-defence. They should keep making loud noises and can use their mobile phones for the same. At least one of the persons should keep guard and alert the group if he senses trouble. Mesh-nets hanging on trees should be provided to collect mahua flowers so that villagers can pick them without crouching. Drumbeats should be sounded in the areas with known tiger presence and human face masks hanging on the back side of the head should be used by the collectors. Forest guards should keep strict vigil in their vehicles in areas with tigers during the time villagers collect forest products”.
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