After the loss of two tigers in a week, Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray has directed multiple departments to work together cohesively for the protection of tigers in the state.
He noted that bearing in mind the existing disparity in the (growing) number of tigers in Maharashtra as against the available natural landmass over which they are spread out, it is essential to prioritise permanent measures as against ad hoc steps for tiger conservation.
“A combined effort that includes taking the local citizenry into confidence with the assistance of the police department to create a network of informers should be prioritised while also creating public awareness on the imperatives of tiger conservation. This should be done even while joint patrolling is carried out and laws are strictly enforced and amendments to the law are made wherever required to provide for even stricter punishment,” Thackeray said in Mumbai.
While chairing an online meeting of the Maharashtra Forest Department on Monday, Thackeray directed that all the state government departments concerned, including Maharashtra State Electricity Distribution Company (MSEDCL), Police and Revenue to work with the Forest departments cohesively for the protection of tigers in the state, a release from Maharashtra government said.
As per the Tiger Census data from 2018 (report published in 2019), there are 312 tigers in Maharashtra, of which as many as 200 tigers are found in Chandrapur district alone. However, this is also the district where there are frequent incidents of human-wildlife conflicts. In the last eight days, two tigresses that had fallen prey to poachers were from the same area.
“The areas where wildlife accidents occur should be identified and necessary alternative measures should be implemented there,” Thackeray said, adding, “the future management of tigers should be planned by keeping in mind the growing number of tigers as a part of forest management.”
The Chief Minister, himself a wildlife photographer, also called for close consultation with the state forest department while carrying out developmental works in the forest regions, especially while planning railway lines to minimise the threat to wildlife, the release said.
Meanwhile, the state government has accepted the recommendations made by the special study group to address the issue at the meeting of the State Wildlife Board. The meeting was informed of the details of the action being taken on the same.
“Special tiger conservation teams have been set up at four tiger reserves in the state and a network of conservation huts were erected to facilitate the patrolling of remote areas. Wireless messaging system has been implemented in all the tiger project areas particularly, in the most sensitive areas. It was informed in the meeting that a joint patrol is being carried out by the Forest Department and MSEDCL to prevent the death of tigers and other wildlife due to electrocution,” the meeting was told.