Asifabad becomes breeding ground for Tigers

Kumram Bheem Asifabad: Amid concerns of a disturbing man-animal conflict, the forests of Asifabad have become a breeding ground for tigers, cheering the authorities of the Forest department and environmentalists. At least five tigresses gave birth to around 16 cubs from 2015 to 2022.

However, in an alarming trend, three persons were killed by tigers in the last two years. On November 11 in 2020, a tiger titled A2 migrated from Maharashtra killed 22-year Sidam Vignesh at Digida village in Dahegaon mandal in the recent history of the district. The same tiger killed an eighteen-year old-tribal girl Pasula Nirmal at Kondapalli village in Penchikalpet mandal on November 20.

In the latest instance, a 69-year old tribal farmer, Sidam Bheem, was killed, allegedly by a tiger when he was plucking cotton balls in his field at Gondapur hamlet under Choupanguda village in Wankidi mandal on Tuesday. The loss of three lives has become a cause for concern to the public and Forest officials.

At the same time, despite these concerns, even as the district is registering a growing man-animal conflict, the dry deciduous forests of this region have turned into a safe breeding ground to the tigresses and a safe cradle for their cubs.

This can be attributed to sustained efforts of the Forest officials to create an ecosystem for the conservation of national animals and involving locals in protection of the solitary animal.

According to officials, five tigresses gave birth to 10 to 18 cubs from 2015 to 2021. A few days back, a tigress named S-13 delivered three cubs in the Kaghaznagar forest division. “Special measures are being taken to protect the young cubs and its mother. Their movement is being tracked regularly,” a Forest official told.

In 2021, a tigress named S-6 of Tadoba Andhari Tiger Reserve (TATR) of Chandrapur in the neighboring Maharashtra entered the forests of the district and gave birth to two cubs. Similarly, another tigress, K8, belonging to the wildlife sanctuary of Maharashtra too delivered three cubs last year. They were grown up and were separated from their mother. They are currently moving in the forests of this district, Mancherial, Peddapalli and Prof Jayashankar Bhupalpally districts.

A tigress titled Phalguna drifted into the forest of this region in 2015, delivered eight cubs in two litters over a period of time. The cubs migrated to Mancherial district in search of territory and food. One of its cubs titled K4 moved in the forests of Chennur with an iron snare around its abdomen till 2018. Its movement was not recorded in the CCTV camera traps so far.

District Forest Officer G Dinesh Kumar said that 40 animal trackers were deployed to monitor the movement of the big cats, besides creation of 12 base camps and formation of a 60-member anti-poaching squad. He stated that proposals were being prepared to recruit 20 more trackers considering the increased movement of tigers and cubs in the forests.

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