Man-tiger conflict: NTCA issues new regulations

A tiger that has strayed into human habitation must be guided back to forest, chemically immobilised, trapped but, unless it is established as a man-eater, not killed, states a Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) framed by the National Tiger Conservation Authority to deal with man-tiger conflict.

The SOP, circulated among chief wildlife wardens last month, states that "under no circumstances must a tiger be eliminated by invoking the Wildlife Protection Act, 1972, if it is not habituated for causing human death". And declaring it a man-eater must also be a well-deliberated exercise that differentiates a chance man-killer from a habituated human stalker that feeds on the body and avoids its natural prey, says the SOP.

Even then, elimination must be the last resort; attempts should be made to capture the man-eater and send it to the nearest recognised zoo. If there is no other option, the SOP says, the tiger should be killed after the approval of the Chief Wildlife Warden; a proper fire arm must be used by an expert and no awards or rewards should be announced for "destruction of man-eaters".

If a healthy tiger or encumbered tigress has occupied a sugarcane field or similar habitat, a not-so- uncommon occurrence, attempts must be made to guide it to a nearby forested area. If that doesn't work, it must be immobilised, captured, radio-collared and released in a low-density area of a nearby tiger reserve or protected area with adequate prey base. In case the captured tiger is injured or incapacitated, the SOP says, it should be sent to a recognised zoo.

To avoid panic and law and order problems in the area where a tiger has strayed, the SOP advises that the authorities impose prohibitory orders under section 144 of IPC, police and local administration get involved at an early stage, alert villagers, set up camera traps to establish the animal's identity and ensure unobtrusive guarding of its kill to allow feeding of the carcass. Besides, it must be ensured that the tiger is not poisoned.

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