Former President of Coorg Wildlife Society writes to CM and suggests sustainable ways and means
Mysore/Mysuru: In the wake of increasing man-animal conflict and tiger attacks in Kodagu where at least three human lives have been lost within a span of 15 to 20 days, former President of Coorg Wildlife Society Col. (Retd.) Cheppudira P. Muthanna has written to Chief Minister B.S. Yediyurappa drawing his attention towards how the people are being victimised by mindless destruction of wild habitats in the name of big projects and how wild animals are entering human areas in search of food.
Keeping in mind the increasing human killing by wild animals including tigers and elephants, Muthanna has suggested the appointment of an Officer on Special Duty in the rank of Deputy Conservator of Forests exclusively for Kodagu. This officer must be based in Thithimathi with adequate staff and resources and he must be able to be a link between the Government and the people to solve pressing problems of the district, he stated.
Secondly, tigers that kill human beings must be hunted down at the earliest to prevent further deaths and the existing regulations should be modified accordingly. “Kodagu has a number of excellent shooters and ten such shooters should be identified and provided with sophisticated telescopic rifles and ammunition. Whenever there is a dangerous situation arising due to tigers or leopards outside the forest habitat, they should be given permission to assist the Forest Department,” Muthanna said and added that local shooters will be more familiar with the terrain and conditions and would be able to defuse a dangerous situation without loss of time and it would save human lives.
According to Muthanna, a major reason for the tiger menace is due to vast areas of the forests covered by invasive species like Lantana Camara and Senna Spectabilis. “Deer and other prey congregate in small patches of forests that are free from weeds and are fit for grazing. This leads to a number of tigers also congregating in the same restricted area and causes the tigers to fight one another. In most such cases one of the tigers will be wounded and forced out of the forest. Therefore sufficient funds are required for eradication of invasive species,” he has suggested.
Some of the other measures suggested to the CM are, opening up of wildlife corridors from Nagarahole to Brahmagiri area in Kutta region of South Kodagu, establishing an Ecological Territorial Army Unit for Kodagu. “These units comprise mainly of able-bodied ex-servicemen who can join as volunteers and the unit can be utilised for forest land restoration, forest fire mitigation and eradication of invasive species,” he said.
Destruction and fragmentation of forest habitat is a primary cause of human-animal conflict and there is a need for a policy decision to prevent further destruction of forests due to so-called development projects such as dams, highways, railways, powerlines etc., he added.
Tourism has done tremendous damage to Kodagu. There should be no further investment in Kodagu for tourism. Tourism in Kodagu should be regulated and not promoted, he wrote. All the proposed project investments in Kodagu must be diverted to improve the economic condition of the people in the district through sustainable living and also to prevent human-animal conflict, he opined.
“There is a need to protect Kodagu as the principal catchment of River Cauvery and the proposals for multi-lane National Highways, railway lines and airport for Kodagu must be scrapped as none of these projects will benefit Kodagu or its people in any way and will only serve to further destroy the environment and landscape of Kodagu,” he urged the CM.
Tiger menace: Overnight protests continue
Overnight protests in parts of South Kodagu demanding the capture or shooting of elusive tiger still continues. The protests began five to six days back and residents of Bellur, Thavalageri, Shettigeri and Srimangala are participating in the dharna. They light campfires daily to keep themselves warm. Tents have been pitched by the side of the road for protection from rain. Protesters are upset as despite the Government shoot-at-sight orders and the intervention of MLAs K.G. Bopaiah and M.P. Appachu Ranjan and MLC Veena Achaiah, who came to Bellur recently, the Forest Department has failed to net the tiger.