Man-animal conflict a continuing problem in Wayanad district

For three weeks, whole villages shivered in fear. But even there, there are people who feel sorry for the tiger shot dead on a coffee plantation at Moolamkavu on Sunday morning.

Most people in these villages on the fringes of the Wayanad Wildlife Sanctuary welcomed the news with a great sense of relief. The tiger had been hunting their cattle, carrying away some 15 animals through these days. But many know that it is only a temporary relief, as man-animal conflict is a fact of life in this forest-fringed land.

Wildlife enthusiasts have come out in protest against the killing of the tiger. A few villagers said the officials could have trapped the big cat instead of killing it, as the animal had never attacked a human being. The police could have been deployed to disperse the mob and save the animal.

Many political leaders have applauded the killing of the tiger. M.I. Shanavas, MP, praising the work of the task force, said in a press release here on Sunday that the combing operations led by the Kerala Forest Department, with assistance from the Karnataka Forest Department, had provided temporary relief to the public, especially those living on the fringes of the forests.

He said the officials had pledged their life, spending many days inside the forests trailing the tiger. The killing of one tiger alone would not solve the man-animal conflict. The State government should implement long-term strategies to end the conflict.

C.K. Saseendran, district secretary of the Communist Party of India (Marxist), said the killing of the tiger was a short-term measure to alleviate the problem faced by the people for a brief period.

He said the party was planning to organise a campaign demanding scientific, permanent solutions to protect people and wildlife after a convention in Sulthan Bathery on December 16.

Cruel act

N. Badhusha, president, Wayanad Prakruthi Samrakshana Samithi, said the cruel act of killing the tiger showed the failure of the Forest Department and the State government. From the very beginning, the criminals in the forest sector could utilise the chance effectively as the government machinery could not respond to the need of the hour.

He said the incident had proved that the Forest Department had no strategy or crisis management plan. Nor did it have any modern apparatus to meet the crisis.

Mr. Badhusha said the man-animal conflict was not new in the district and the people living on the fringes of forest were used to it, but the delay and laxity of the government in intervening in the issue made it a complex problem this time.

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