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    Tiger on the prowl: Villagers near Assam’s Kaziranga National Park seek help from foresters

    Tiger on the prowl: Villagers near Assam’s Kaziranga National Park seek help from foresters

    Tiger on the prowl: Villagers near Assam’s Kaziranga National Park seek help from foresters
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    By Karishma Hasnat   IST (Updated)

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    A tiger that moved out of the central range of Kaziranga National Park is giving sleepless nights to the villagers living along the boundary of the park adjacent to the National Highway. Tagged as ‘Kazi 188’, the tiger had killed 32 cattle last year, and on the prowl again after a few months.  It has been a week since forest personnel and rangers have been deployed on the ground to track the big cat, though it is nowhere to be seen.  

    A tiger that moved out of the central range of Kaziranga National Park is giving sleepless nights to the villagers living along the boundary of the park adjacent to the National Highway. Tagged as ‘Kazi 188’, the tiger had killed 32 cattle last year, and on the prowl again after a few months.  It has been a week since forest personnel and rangers have been deployed on the ground to track the big cat, though it is nowhere to be seen.
    “The tiger is presently in the fourth addition of the park that connects Kaziranga to Karbi Anglong hills. There are animals moving to the fourth edition, and if the cattle too move there, they will serve as prey for the tiger – villagers should not let their cattle graze in the park area. It is an animal corridor, but people living in the fringe villages have built cattle sheds along the stretch. The conflict area is barely 100 metres from the highway. We have already compensated for the loss of cattle, but we want to bring about a permanent solution,” said P Sivakumar, Director of Kaziranga National Park.
    ‘Kazi 188’ had killed a mother cow two days ago, and villagers are now having to feed the calf that is said to be about three months old.
    “I had about 50-60 cattle, and the tiger has killed almost 30 – we are now feeding the calf in absence of its mother. The foresters have set a trap cage here, but no luck,” said one of the villagers.
    Blue dot near Kanchanjuri shows where the cattle was lifted from - the area falls under fourth addition of Kaziranga national park
    “It has reappeared after a few months and can be sighted sometimes during the day, or in the evening hours. A lady had brought her cattle to graze on Tuesday – the tiger pounced on a cow and dragged it to a distance...When we rushed to the spot hearing the woman cry for help, the tiger left the animal there and escaped. The next morning, there was no sign of the carcass,” said another.
    The forest department is now left with two choices – either capture the big cat and release it at another location or tranquilize it.
    “Tranquilizing the tiger would be against our own conservation efforts – we have already put up a trap cage, but if it remains elusive, we will have to locate and tranquilize it. We talked to villagers and they want us to take away the tiger from the area. But it is challenging…One villager brought back his animal from the trap cage when it was crying out all night,” said Sivakumar.
    However, authorities are still trying to ascertain if ‘Kazi 188’ is the same tiger that had moved out of its territory during the flood season last year, and had devoured more than 30 cattle that belonged to villagers living along the periphery of the park.
    “We have to verify if it is the same tiger that had strayed out of its area during July-August. There were no incidents reported in the past few months. Since last week, villagers have complained of a tiger attacking their livestock. There are also about 4-5 tigers in Karbi Anglong, reportedly in areas where mining used to take place. These are protected areas and a reserved forest,” Sivakumar explained, adding that there has been no scientific estimation of tigers in the hills district.
    Cattle lifting is said to be a common phenomenon - a few days ago, there were reports of a leopard lifting cattle from the surrounding areas around Kohora range of the park. The conflict between humans and big cats has not just posed a threat to tigers and leopards, but have also proved to be a major problem for people living in and around their habitat. According to the last camera trap estimation in Kaziranga National Park in 2018, there are 121 tigers in the wild.
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