Legalise hunting wild animals that pose threat to humans: Madhav Gadgil

Ecologist Madhav Gadgil
Ecologist Madhav Gadgil. File photo: Manorama

Thiruvananthapuram: At a time when the man-tiger conflict is increasing in the northern districts of Kerala, environmental scientist Madhav Gadgil told Manorama News that killing wild animals, which are harmful to human lives, should be made legal. He opined that the control over hunting should be handed over to local self-governments.

He said, “Banning the hunting of wild animals that pose threat is not logical. It should be allowed outside national parks. Animals are facing issues like extinction due to problems like pollution.”

About 10 tigers are likely to stray into the inhabited areas in Wayanad, Aralam in Kannur soon, according to the Department of Forests and Wildlife.

A ‘new’ tiger was spotted near the farm in Aralam, recently. The huge tiger, which seemed to be aged 10 years, was not listed in the Forest Department’s database so far. The cameras set up by the department recorded the tiger twice. The Forest officials are pondering on further action as the animal has not been a trouble to the people so far.

As per the Forest Department’s data, there are about 80 tigers within the 344 square kilometres of Wayanad Wildlife Sanctuary. These are the ones recorded on the camera. There could be another 10 that have not been spotted in the camera.

Reasons for the frequent sightings of big cats

The tigers that reach Kerala are likely coming from the Nagarhole National Park, which is a Tiger Reserve, and the Bandipur National Park, both in Karnataka state.

Only two or three tigresses usually coexist in the territory of one male tiger. For another male tiger to enter this territory, it has to defeat the male tiger there.

The male tigers which are thus injured and defeated usually relocate to areas where they get their prey without much of a struggle. The cubs also get similarly ostracised from the streak once they enter adulthood.

When the new adults try to establish their territories, the wilds of Wayanad turn out to be a perfect battleground, especially during the months from November to March, when the tigers look for their mates. People letting the cattle graze close to the wilds in such areas also attract the tigers out of the wilds.

A tigress needs 25 sq km, while a tiger needs 80 sq km. In short, there is a triple the number of tigers that can be contained in the wilds of Wayanad. Nevertheless, a proportionate number of deer and bison are also there for the tigers to prey on.

There are more tigers in Wayanad than the wilds can contain. However, as there is sufficient prey including deer and bison, the increase in the number of tigers here does not cause much of a headache, Forest officials said.

Six tigers were captured from the inhabited areas of Wayanad over the past ten months. One died, and five have been taken to the rescue centre.

The tiger which was a headache for the forest officials at Kurukkan moola for months together had a serious injury on its neck. Another one captured after that had lost one tooth. Yet another tiger had a critical wound on its limb. The fifth tiger captured was taken to the rescue centre at Wayanad Kuppadi yesterday. This centre can only accommodate four tigers and two leopards.

The Wildlife Warden can only give orders to capture the tigers that are a danger to human life using tranquiliser shots. Another challenge is where to release the tigers thus captured.

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