THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: Faced with the challenge of human-tiger conflicts, the Forest Department is contemplating a proposal to start a safari park to rehabilitate the captured animals. Human-tiger conflicts are mostly reported from the fringes of the Wayanad Wildlife Sanctuary, which is home to about 75 tigers. Close to other national wildlife sanctuaries like Nagarhole, Bandipur and Mudumalai, the Wayanad Wildlife Sanctuary has the second largest tiger population in South India after Karnataka’s Bandipur Tiger Reserve.
This year alone, two tigers were captured from human habitations in Wayanad. While a 10-year-old female cat was caught from Noolpuzha mid-January, a 13-year-old male, that severely injured a forest watcher, was captured from Pulpally.
As per the current practice, the captured animals are handed over to zoos in Thrissur and Thiruvananthapuram. The zoos have informed the Forest Department they cannot accommodate more animals owing to space constraints.
Safari park planned in Muthanga
Principal Chief Conservator of Forests (Wildlife) and Chief Wildlife Warden Surendrakumar said the proposal was in the wake of the frequent incidents of tigers straying into human habitats. “Those straying into human habitats are either weak or injured, who will not survive in the forest if sent back. Since they cannot hunt in the forest, they may again stray out or starve to death,” he said.
The safari park will help the animals live in a forest-like habitat where they can freely roam around. Also, aged or injured animals will be given medical treatment there. The location considered for the park is near the Muthanga elepant rehabilitation centre. Together, the elephant camp and the safari park will become a prominent tourist destination in the district.