While governments and conservationists across the globe are trying their best to increase the population of tigers, the Shiv Sena led Maharashtra govt has proposed a shocking plan to decrease the tiger population by sterilising the. The Maharashtra forest department has proposed to sterilize 20 male tigers to control the growing population of the wild animal, according to a report by Times of India. The department plans to sterilise 20 tigers in the Chandrapur district, apart from its plan to translocate 50 tigers from the district.
This will be the first-ever plan to sterilize tigers in a country where a massive effort is going on to increase the tiger population under the Project Tiger. The plan is to sterilise 20 male tigers while sterilizing tigresses is not discussed yet.
The measure in an effort to end the man-animal conflict in the district that was submitted to the state government on March 19. Wildlife officials told TOI, “These are suggestions and not decisions. It is up to the government and state wildlife board to take a final call. It is a long-drawn process for which we have to think now.”
As per the TOI report, since 2014, 116 people have been killed in attacks by the tigers in the Chandrapur district alone. Of these 81 have been killed in the attacks by the tigers. 16 have been dead in other wild animal attacks and 15 of them by the big cats.
Officials said, “There are 200 tigers in the district and these do not include cubs. As per Wildlife Institute of India (WII), there are 63 breeding tigresses and next year number of tigers is expected to increase by 60. In the 5 km radius of Chandrapur city, there are 21 tigers. In such a situation we will have to think about solutions to curb man-animal conflict and hence we have submitted proposal for the same.”
Male tigers are an easier choice for sterilization
Deputy Director of research and veterinary surgeon, Dr. Shirish Upadhye said that the male tigers would be an easier choice for sterilization. Dr. Upadhye said, “The procedure would involve keeping tigers in captivity for about seven days post-surgery. The surgery needs to be done under general anesthesia and care like post-operative dressings, medications would be required.”
He further added, “The Gorewada Rescue Centre has good facilities. Wildlife Research & Training Centre (WRTC) of Maharashtra Animal & Fishery Sciences University (MAFSU) has expertise. However, there are no enclosures for any new additions, that may be required during this entire procedure for treatment of injured tigers or surgeries.”
Chandrapur district is spread across 11,443 square kilometres including 1800 villages. It includes the territorial area of about 2,726 square kilometres, under Forest Development Corporation of Maharashtra limited-755 square kilometre, Tadoba Andheri Tiger Reserve has 1,320 square kilometres & non-forest area is 6,642 square kilometre. There are 63 breeding tigresses in the district. 21 tigers can be witnessed in the 5 km radius of Chandrapur.
Tiger is a protected species
It may be noted that the tiger is listed as an endangered species, and it is protected under Indian wildlife laws. In 1973, the govt of India had launched the Project Tiger to protect the largest existing cat species from extinction. The project aims at ensuring a viable population of Bengal tigers in their natural habitats, protecting them from extinction, and preserving areas of biological importance as a natural heritage forever represented as close as possible the diversity of ecosystems across the distribution of tigers in the country. There are 50 tiger reserves in the country under the project. There are 6 such tiger reserves in Maharashtra, including the Tadoba Andhari Tiger Reserve in the Chandrapur district.
At a time when such massive efforts are ongoing to protect the endangered species, the proposal of the Maharashtra forest department to sterilize tigers has shocked environmentalists. If the state govt led by Shiv Sena, which uses tiger as its unofficial symbol, agrees to sterilise tigers, it will surely lead to a legal and public battle to protect the population of the big cats.