Komaram Bheem Asifabad: The tiger that recently killed an Adivasi youth Vignesh in Digida village of Dahegaon mandal has neither been sighted nor caught in cages that Telangana forest officials have set up. It has also not been confirmed whether the tiger is from within TS or has returned to its home base in Maharashtra.
The death of Vignesh, however, highlights the fact that tigers are entering human habitations and lifting cattle as the prey-base of herbivores in Telangana forests is low. Conservationists say instead of creating hype that tiger population in TS has gone up based on sightings of tigers entering the state from neighbouring Maharashtra forests, it would be better if state authorities increased grasslands over barren regions within the state’s forests.
This would help build the number of herbivores in Telangana forests, which would then encourage tigers into making TS their home base. Sources say right now tigers are entering Telangana from Maharashtra as their numbers are high in that state and there is competition within them over territory. Still, tigers entering Telangana are forced to go back due to non-availability of prey-base in the TS forests. When too hungry, the tigers are entering human habitats and lifting domestic cattle, goats or sheep.
Tigers have in all killed 57 cattle within the Kagaznagar forest division in Komaram Bheem Asifabad district and Chennur forest range in Mancherial district during the last six months. This is mainly because the tigers have not sighted many herbivores in the forests. Even, visitors to the forests say they have been unable to find enough herbivores in the forest where tiger movement is being noticed nowadays.
Forest officials of Penchikalpet, Bejjur, Dahegaon and Sirpur (T) are focusing on creating grasslands in order to increase the population of herbivores in the forests along River Pranahitha Their hope is that once grasslands develop over barren forest lands in the state, herbivores in those forests would increase and migrating tigers would instead make the area their permanent habitat.
People living near forests in Telangana region are also of the opinion that tigers are coming closer to their villages and killing cattle and goats because there is not enough prey-base in the forests. They are accusing forest officials of failing to create sufficient prey-base in the state’s forests even though the Forest Department gets huge funds from the state and central governments for tiger conservation.