By S. Harpal Singh
Tigers have no safety in Andhra Pradesh. So it seems given the cavalier attitude of the AP Forest Department towards protection of the big cat.
It is two months since a tiger has strayed into the Nilwai forest range in Adilabad, but the Department has not initiated proper steps to protect it from poaching which, unfortunately is rampant in these parts. The Forest Department has also drawn severe criticism for the manner in which the Kawal Tiger Reserve (KTR) in the district is being managed.
“The Department is in a state of decay,” remarks Mancherial MLA G. Arvind Reddy, who is the member of the AP Legislative Assembly Committee on Wildlife and Environment Protection Committee as he talks of tiger conservation in the State with particular reference to that in the district. “Unlike the other 40 tiger reserves in the country, the DFOs at KTR and the Nagarjunasagar Srisailam Tiger Reserve also manage part of territorial divisions which is a diversion from the basic task of wildlife protection,” he adds reasoning out for being critical of the Department.
Though Mancherial DFO B. Prabhakar has initiated some steps towards protection of the stray tiger which has since been identified as a three-year-old healthy female, he is definitely handicapped in terms of staff. The Nilwai range has five posts of beat officers and the post of Forest Range Officer (FRO) vacant. “Yes, we need all the hands to provide more protection to the wild animal. It being a tigress, there is all likelihood of the animal staying back in these parts and attracting males from other places,” says Mr. Prabhakar.
The Hyderabad Tiger Conservation Society (HyTICOS), which is actively involved in keeping the stray tigress in ‘sight’, wants the government to post a FRO each for manning the tiger corridor areas and for coordinating anti-poaching efforts of the Department in the district. “While the former can sanitise the corridor for tigers to migrate into KTR and other conducive places, the latter would effectively check poaching to make life easier for the wild animals especially the prey base of tigers,” opines Imran Siddiqui of the HyTICOS.