PANAJI: Tribals from 'Dhangar' (shepherd) community residing in wildlife sanctuaries of Goa have been increasingly migrating to the mainland due to "stringent" forest laws, a leader from the community has claimed.
Notably, five members of the community were recently arrested in connection with the suspected "revenge killing" of four tigers for preying on cattle of tribals residing in the forest areas of Mahadayi Wildlife Sanctuary, police said.
Majority of the community members inhabit remote forest areas of the Mahadayi Wildlife Sanctuary in Sattari taluka of North Goa district and Netravali Wildlife Sanctuary in Sanguem taluka of South Goa district, with dairy farming being their key source of livelihood.
"The Dhangar community members, whose livelihood and culture is in sync with the forest life, are increasingly finding themselves at the receiving end due to which they have started migrating to villages on the mainland," Goa Dhangar Seva Sangh president BD Mote told PTI.
Some 25 families from the community residing in Vageri forest area of Sattari taluka since Portuguese-era shifted to Thane and Bhuipal villages over the years following several restrictions imposed by the state forest department under the Wildlife Protection Act, Mote claimed.
These include prohibition from cutting even a branch of tree and restrictions on movement in the area, he said.
There are several such instances of migration of Dhangar families.
However, despite the adversities, many families from the community still continue to live in the wild, he said.
"There are five families living in Satre village of Mahadayi Wildlife Sanctuary, which is inaccessible by road, while Bondirwado village in Sattari's Sanvordem panchayat has 15 families from the community," Mote said.
They want to continue residing in the forest areas that have been their home since ages, but on condition that they would not be harassed by forest officials, he said.
Mote also said that the community members are ready to shift if they are provided proper rehabilitation.
Talking about recent case of death of four tigers due to suspected poisoning by locals, Mote said it was shocking that members of the community, "which worships the striped animal", were arrested for allegedly killing the felines.
Chief Minister Pramod Sawant on Thursday said people living in the tiger territory in Goa will be shifted elsewhere to avoid man-animal conflict.
The state government would provide them proper rehabilitation, Sawant said, adding that he has asked the forest department to identify villages that lie within the territory of big cats.