Monday, May 24, 2010

Big Cats - Downslide continues

In spite of strong conservation measures the big cats in Central India continue to loose ground. The tragic death of Jhurjura tigress at Bandhavgarh and poaching of leopards at Sijhora and at Satpura Tiger Reserve is heart breaking.

For many these are mere statistics and news items but for wildlife lovers this is in distressing. What is frightening is the manner and number in which leopards are being killed. The animals is bold and dares venture near human habitation with easy albeit at times under duress. The primary targets are live stock, tame dogs and often poultry.

The leopard is the first to face the scourge of locals who cannot bear to loose livestock. I have witnessed at Kanha National Park one such incident of cattle killing by a leopard. Luckily the carcass as moved to human precincts in order to avoid poison killing of the cat. So many such incidents occur all over India and are a regular feature at periphery of National Parks like Kanha Kisli near Mandla, Bandhavgarh and Pench Tiger Reserve.

At times ire of locals is understandable but it man who is the trespasser in areas reserved for other life forms. In order to manage over board human population we are putting lot of stress on our natural resources and the future is bleak.

Continued intrusion in left over ecosystems and destruction of habit is an ongoing feature and there is little hope for the beleaguered animals. Due to lack of proper planning, implementation and innovative approach the problems in and around protected areas are taking demonic form.

The lack of political will is most unsurprisingly due to fear of loosing popularity and hence vote bank. This quite evident in case of relocation programs in tiger reserves and wildlife sanctuaries all over India. It is clearly man before animals and disregard for other life forms. The wild animals in India are third grade citizens or may be lower down.

The big cats are loosing ground but the main reason at present seems to be man animal conflict, demand for tiger parts and skins especially in Tibet and China. And our inability to provide physical protection to the endangered species closeted in smalls pockets augurs the death knell. We are clearly helpless guarding our forests and precious wildlife.

Since last to decades solutions from all sources have been sought but there is none. Why not take the bull by horn and catch the poacher red handed followed by stringent punitive measures.

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