NGOs help Forest Department provide compensation to herders who lose cattle to carnivore attacks
The aim is to ensure the carcasses of cattle killed by carnivores are not poisoned, as this often leads to the death of wildlife including tigers, dhole and vultures
To discourage herders from poisoning cattle killed by carnivores in the buffer zone of the Mudumalai Tiger Reserve (MTR), conservation NGO, Arulagam with the help of Mariamma Foundation in Bandipur and the Tamil Nadu Forest Department is providing immediate monetary compensation to cattle owners.
Recently, seven herders in Vazhaithottam, Mavanallah, Anaikatti, Achakarai and Bokkapuram received compensation amounting to ₹5,000 per person for the cattle they lost to predators over the last month.
In the past, cattle killed by carnivores have been poisoned by herders, killing not just carnivores, but other wildlife.
In MTR last year, a tiger as well as five Asiatic wild dogs (dhole) were killed in suspected poisoning incidents, while vultures too have died in previous years from consuming poisoned carcasses.
Top officials of the Department, including Deputy Director of MTR (Buffer Zone), P. Arunkumar, local rangers and members of Arulagam were present at the event to hand over the compensation.
S. Manigandan, research scholar at Arulagam, told The Hindu that the initiative will not only help protect carnivores such as tigers and leopards, but also scavengers like the critically-endangered species of vultures that inhabit the Sigur, as well as other wildlife such as striped hyenas and dholes. “Arulagam is also working towards increasing the compensation amount awarded to the herders. The initiative has been ongoing since last year to provide timely compensation to cattle owners,” said Mr. Manigandan.
Field Director of MTR, D. Venkatesh, said that such efforts, along with the Forest Department’s own compensation package of ₹30,000 for cattle preyed on by carnivores, will lead to fewer instances of retaliation by the local public against wildlife. The compensation provided by the Forest Department will be given to the herders separate from the initiative by Arulagam, officials said.
“When a cattle is killed by a predator, we usually request the owners to hand over the cattle to us so we can leave it inside a reserve forest for scavengers. The Forest Department hopes that such initiatives can help wildlife and also involve local communities in their protection,” he said.