No neutering tigers in Chandrapur: State Board for Wildlife

Updated: 08 August, 2020 07:39 IST | Dharmendra Jore | Mumbai

State Board for Wildlife rejects Forest Department idea to help control the big cat population; chief minister supports board, which says experts should find why the animals don't move into neighbouring forests

Tigress Maya at Tadoba Andhari National Park at Chandrapur. Pic/Uday Devrukhkar
Tigress Maya at Tadoba Andhari National Park at Chandrapur. Pic/Uday Devrukhkar

The State Board for Wildlife (SBWL) has rejected the Forest Department's idea of neutering tigers in Chandrapur district, where more than half of Maharashtra's tiger population is found, and where a growing number of human-animal conflict deaths are recorded.

The board which met under the leadership of Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray on Friday decided that the experts should find out why tigers didn't disperse to the neighbouring Gadhchiroli forests. It also said that a fragmented corridor should be cleared to ease their movement to the new habitat instead of taking the extreme step of laparoscopic vasectomy (of males) and temporary sterilisation (of females) to stall procreation and prevent human-animal conflict. The Forest Department had also suggested translocating 50 Chandrapur tigers to other suitable forest areas.

A SBWL member, Kishor Rithe, who attended the video-conference, told mid-day that the CM was of the opinion that the neutering was the last option available. According to Rithe, Chandrapur district which houses Tadoba and other wildlife sanctuaries, has 160 (excluding cubs and semi-adult) of the state's 312 tigers and has also reported about 150 deaths in tiger attacks since 2007. "This is the only forest area where the tiger population is increasing consistently because of habitat conservation and protection. The population is expected to grow further and the tigers are moving closer to human habitat. But we told the meeting that neutering wasn't the way to control the population," said Rithe.

About translocation of tigers, the wildlife expert from Amravati said the forest officials were asked to know why the tigers weren't moving out to the adjoining Gadhchiroli forests which could also be a perfect habitat for them. "Is the corridor between Chandrapur and Gadhchiroli fragmented because of several development projects or is there a threat from poachers? We refused to approve the neutering proposal saying that it wasn't a subject for a 10-minute discussion, but needed a thorough study and recommendations from wildlife experts," he added.

Wildlife Conservation Fund

The board decided to set up an exclusive Wildlife Conservation Fund in order to provide financial grants to conservation projects across the state.

This was necessary because the development projects paid a certain cess for a specific purpose against causing environmental damage. For example, the Navi Mumbai International Airport provided for mangrove conservation in Mumbai and neighbouring areas. But henceforth, the money thus collected will go to the state fund and be used for all needy things.

New rule for laying cables

The SBWL asked optic fibre companies to use machines that dig horizontally instead of earthmovers that cause extensive damage to lay their cables. It also asked power transmission companies to lay cables instead of constructing huge towers that need a lot of forest land.

Sonneratia Alba was recently declared the State Mangrove Tree. It is found in Maharashtra's coastal regions and because of white flowers is locally known as Safed Chippi.

The board said public awareness should be created to know the importance of the mangroves and especially Safed Chippi, that is among 20 mangrove types found in India, and not only protects the ecosystem, but also provides for birds, honey bees and gives edible fruits.

CM's younger son gets a boost

CM Thackeray's younger son and environment minister Aaditya Thackeray's younger brother, Tejas, and his team was granted permission to collect different types of landsnails — Taxon (Cyclophorus sp, Theobaldius sp, Tortulosa sp, Genera Acavus, Oligospira and Corilla), Micro-mollusca genera : Philalanka, Microcystina and Cyathopoma to study their diversity in the Western Ghats. Tejas, who has made some wildlife discoveries before, has Aniket Marathe, Swapnil Pawar and Amrut Bhosale on his research team.

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First Published: 08 August, 2020 07:37 IST

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