By Sanjay Borkar
PANAJI: With the tigers spotted in Goa in the year 2014 and 2018, there is increasing demand for constitution of Tiger Reserve in Mhadei Wildlife Sanctuary, but government has not taken any decision on this issue yet as there is opposition to this proposal from locals.
The National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA) had mooted a proposal for constitution of Tiger Reserve in Goa, after the All India Tiger Estimation, in 2014. Around five tigers were spotted in 2014, while three were spotted in 2018, as per records of NTCA.
After the incident of alleged killing of one tigress and three cubs near Golauli village in Sattari adjoining Madhei Wildlife Sanctuary in 2020, government had taken the issue seriously and had investigated the matter.
Soon after this incident, a cow was preyed on by a tiger that dragged its body away. The locals from the area had expressed fear over the movement of tigers.
“There has been an increase in the movement of tigers in the forests of Goa. One tigress and three cubs were found dead near Golauli village in Sattari adjoining Madhei Wildlife Sanctuary. It is a suspected case of revenge killing through poisoning as tigers had killed few cattle of villagers. Five suspects were arrested, who confessed to killing the tigers through poisoning,” Government had stated in 2020.
Tiger population in Goa migrates between Goa and adjoining states of Karnataka and Maharashtra.
Goa Government had said that it is fully committed to protect its wild animals as well as the people in dealing with human-wildlife conflict.
“There are six Wildlife Sanctuaries and one National Park spread through an area of 745 square km for conservation and management of wildlife in the state. There are many villages in and around the wildlife sanctuaries. Therefore, human-wild animal conflict is a normal phenomenon. However, the Forest Department is making all possible efforts to minimise the conflicts,” it said.
Sources informed that the state government had taken some measures to protect tigers with support of central government’s scheme ‘Project Tiger’ and had also allocated funds in the state budget in the past for the cause.
Though the NTCA had mooted a proposal for constitution of Tiger Reserve in Goa and those opposing Mhadei water diversion had also demanded for the ‘Tiger Reserve, government has not yet taken any decision on it.
“We are against the ‘Tiger Reserve’ as it will impose restrictions on us. We have cashew plantations in the forest areas and many are dependent on it. Once it is reserved, our movement will be restricted,” one local from Sattari told IANS.
“Secondly, some sections are demanding the ‘Tiger Reserve’ to save Mhadei from getting diverted, but they are not thinking of our livelihood,” he said.
Forest officer on the condition of anonymity said that they are monitoring movement of tigers by patrolling and regular use of camera traps.
“Camera traps are placed at different locations to monitor the movement of wildlife. We are doing all the things that could help to protect tigers,” he said.
According to the records of government, the National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA) had mooted a proposal for constitution of Tiger Reserve in State of Goa, after the All India Tiger Estimation, 2014.
“As the Protected Areas of Goa form a contiguous corridor with Kali Tiger Reserve in Karnataka, a proposal to constitute a Tiger Reserve was discussed in the meeting of State Board of Wildlife held in October, 2016,” government record stated.
According to the opposition parties in Goa, notifying the Tiger Reserve would make the state’s case against Karnataka stronger to stop diversion of water from Mhadei wildlife sanctuary.
By Sanjay Borkar