19September2017

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How Sundarbans Is Tackling Man-Animal Conflict

SUNDARBUNS:  For over a decade now, 40-year-old Ali Mondal has stayed away from the mangrove forest in the Sundarbans, where he would venture every day to make his living.

On a good day he earned up to Rs.300 but that also meant the daily risk of coming face-to-face with a tiger, an encounter he's survived not once but twice.

"When you face a tiger, there is no place to run. My wife saved me once by throwing a branch at the tiger and screaming as loud as she could. I was lucky to live with just a few scratches to show for the encounter," Mr Mondal said, who now works at a guest house with humble salary but he preferred to choose safety over money.

 

Sundarbans, one of the Unesco's world heritage sites, is home to tigers. People here live in close proximity to the big cat as many depend on the forest for their survival. The tigers here may be difficult to spot, but they are as agile on land as they are in water.

With the increase in human population, the incidents of man animal conflict are also on the rise, however the authorities are working towards bringing down such fatal incidents.
 
In 2015, 16 people were killed in man animal conflicts in Sundarbans, 17 had died in 2014.

Sundarbans Biosphere Reserve Director Pradeep Vyas explains, "We have to see that people do not go into the forest by giving them alternate livelihood. Certainly many lives will be saved."
Another unique thing we have done is that we have developed a 10 foot nylon fence to prevent tiger from coming here nylon fence. All along the fence we have about 140 km fence between the forest and village interface."

"The principle way to tackle man animal conflict is to create as much separation as possible between animal and man. Villagers have a right to livelihood. We want to raise not just the profile of the Sundarbans but also the protectors of the Sundarbans," said environmentalist Bittu Sahgal. 

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