Teams of 'Bagh Mitras', to help tackle man-animal conflicts in UP's Terai region

According to Mudit Gupta, state coordinator, WWF-India, "There have been an increasing number of incidents related to conflicts between man and the big cat."

The World Wide Fund for Nature-India (WWF-India) is forming a team of 'Bagh Mitra', who will help tackle the increasing number of man-animal conflicts in Uttar Pradesh's Terai region. An overall of 50 Bagh Mitras have been selected in Lakhimpur Kheri while 75 are being trained in Pilibhit district. These 'mitras' will be trained in sensitizing local residents, understanding tiger/leopard behaviour, pugmark identification and providing support in rescue operations.

Tiger population has increased significantly in the Pilibhit Tiger Reserve

As per the statements of Mudit Gupta, state coordinator, WWF-India, "There have been an increasing number of incidents related to conflicts between man and the big cat. There has also been an increase in the number of tigers over the past few years and animals now move out of their territory outside the forest. We will have to learn to live with the situation."

He further said that "Unlike forest tigers, the tigers living in sugarcane fields are getting used to the presence of human beings and there are rare instances of them attacking the human population in the region. Now, we are training selected people living in the villages where sugarcane tigers are found as Bagh Mitras."

According to all-India tiger estimation, the numbers of tigers have increased significantly to 65 in the Pilibhit Tiger Reserve while Lakhimpur Kheri has 107 tigers with 82 in forest areas and 25 straying in sugarcane fields in the Mohammadi range. According to experts, the male tigers that failed to mark their territory or the tigresses expecting to give birth to cubs, often stray outside the forests for a safer place.

Advance training of the selected Bagh Mitras to start soon

Anil, a Bagh Mitra from Mohammadi, was quoted saying, "We were trained in general tips and tools used in case a big cat strays close to a village. We have nearly 15 villages in the region. We can now identify carnivores through their pugmarks and the steps to be taken to push the animal into the forest area. During training, we came to know that sugarcane tigers are actually beneficial for the farmers as they kill wild boars and nilgai that damage the crops." The Bagh Mitras interact with villagers from time to time and spread awareness about measures needed to prevent tiger attacks.

"The advance training of the selected Bagh Mitras will take place soon where they would be given expertise on how to assist the forest department in tranquilizing/rescue operations, usage of GPS for tiger monitoring and installation of camera traps," said a forest official.

~With inputs from IANS

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