HUBBALLI: A day after a Bandipur ranger was attacked by a tiger, wildlife experts have asked foresters working in tiger reserves and national parks to exercise caution. They suggest that field-level officers develop the instinct to sense danger when in the wild, so that animal-human conflicts can be checked.
Four cases of animals attacking forest officials have been reported from various reserves of Karnataka in the last one year, and two people have died in different incidents. While IFS officer Manikantan heading Nagarhole Tiger Reserve was trampled to death by an elephant, a temporary forest watcher from Cauvery Wildlife Sanctuary met with the same fate.
After a tiger attacked Range Forest Officer Raghavendra in Bandipur, experts are asking why the officer ventured into the tiger area, that too unarmed. “The officer should have been aware of surprises the wild can throw up. Before being deputed at Bandipur, Raghavendra had worked in BRT Tiger Reserve. It was wrong of him to venture out to check the presence of a tiger without precautions. Field officers must be made aware of negative aspects of forest protection and use this knowledge to avoid dangerous situations,” a wildlife expert told TNIE.
K M Chinnappa, a senior wildlife conservationist, revealed that from his observation, most wild attacks occur when animals are chased. “The unfortunate death of a forester near river Cauvery happened when a team was driving away elephants. When foresters are transferred to different forests, they must be trained to cope with the different conditions they are likely to encounter, for some could be very dangerous,” he said.
“We have been asking the government to appoint local guards, who would know the terrain and dangers involved,” he added.
A retired forester admitted that there is no specific training given to field officers to deal with surprise wild attacks. “Sloth bears and elephants (tuskers) are most unpredictable in the wild. It is important that a forest team is made aware of possible dangers to expect, and be in a position to take precautionary measures,” he said.