Collaborative study on problems of Tiger straying in the village of Sundarbans

The Sundarbans which forms a part of the largest delta in the world, harbours one of the biggest chunk of mangrove forests on earth, which is still surviving against a mounting population pressure and is the habitat of the highest single population of tigers (Panthera tigris tigris). The Sunderbans has an age-old history of man-tiger conflicts. The incidents of tiger straying into the fringe villages of the Tiger Reserve and Biosphere Reserve seem to have increased in the last two decades. The present project attempts to find out some possible causes for these straying cases and tries to locate measures that might help to minimize the problem. This project also attempts to reduce the conflict between villagers and forest department personnel.

Funded By: International Development Agency
Project Duration: 1996 (1 year)

To find out possible causes for Tiger straying in fringe villages.

To determine measures that might help to minimize the problem of man-tiger conflicts.

To reduce the conflict between villagers and forest department personnel

A) The result of the analysis of records collected from different Forest Offices indicates that:

1) Of the 94 incidents of tiger-straying in the last 10 years (1986-1995) most of the cases have occurred during monsoon (29) and post monsoon (47).

2) As against 3 incidents of tiger-straying in 3 different villages in 2 Ranges of the Sunderban Biosphere Reserve, 91 incidents have occurred in 16 villages of the 2 Ranges of the Sunderban Tiger Reserve with Bagna range (49 cases) being a little more affected than Sajnekhali range (42 cases).

3) The heavily affected villages are Shyamshernagar (32 cases), Kalitala (8 cases) and Kumirmari (7 cases) in Bagna range and Rajat Jubilee (19 cases) and Jamespur (7 cases) in Sajnekhali range.

4) All the straying incidents have occurred at night, with male tigers being responsible for 76 incidents as against 18 by females.

5) The tigers had crossed rivers, creeks or canals between 16-150 metres in width to enter into the villages in Bagna range but 300-900 metres in width to enter into the villages in Sajnekhali range.

6) ln most of the cases the tigers had resorted to cattle-lifting or poultry feeding. Only in 4 incidents men were attacked or killed.

B) The age old problem of tiger-straying was studied in detail and a straying calendar was prepared which shows two peaks. One is February and the other one is May.

C) Opinion survey of the villagers through questionnaire forms was done. The village-wise information about the problems faced by the villagers and measures adopted by the different Govt. departments could be compiled.

D) There may be various reasons for tiger straying in the villages. The probable reasons of straying of tigers in villages were found as-

1) Proximity of human habitation to the tiger habitat.

2) Mangrove strips protecting the embankment of the villages are confused by the tigers as their own habitat.

3) Scarcity of prey animal is not the cause for tiger straying in the villages of Sundarban.

4) Littering female strays in the paddy field to protect her cubs

5) Confusion of paddy field with Porteresia coarctata.

6) Generally old tigers stray for easy prey.

7) Straying due to washing out of pheromone by tidal waves.

8) The male tiger losing domain to the dominant male tiger may stray.

9) Tigers do not stray in the village to kill easy prey like human.