KOLKATA: Fishermen in the Sunderbans region are being provided with small ovens fitted with LPG cylinders to stop them from collecting firewood from the reserve forest, where they often fall prey to tigers, a top forest official said on Tuesday.
Chief Wildlife Warden Ravikant Sinha said 100 LPG-run ovens will be supplied to as many fishermen in Basirhat block of North 24 Parganas district, as part of a pilot project.
"We have plans to reach out to as many fishermen as possible in the forest belt after having determined the success and sustainability of this initiative.
One cylinder can last up to 12 days, the time usually taken by the fishermen to complete one trip," he said.
As options are limited in the Sundarbans - the world's largest mangrove forest intersected by rivulets and creeks - fishermen often anchor their boats on the banks and enter the jungle to collect wood.
Many of them are mauled to death by tigers, Sinha said.
"We want to stop this practice as soon as possible. This new initiative, if successful, will reduce the incidence of tiger attacks on humans.
"On Saturday, 23 cylinders were distributed among the fishermen in North 24 Parganas, with assistance from NGO Society for Heritage and Ecological Research, and the rest would be doled out soon," he told PTI.
Over the past two months, at least two villagers were killed by tigers when they ventured into the jungle looking for firewood in Kumirmari and Deulbari areas of Sunderbans.
In both the cases, half-eaten bodies of the victims were found later, forest department sources said.