PANAJI: Condemning the killing of four tigers allegedly by members of Dhanger community in Mhadei wildlife sanctuary, president of Goa Dhangar Samaj Seva Sangh (GDSSS) B D Mote on Thursday said the tragedy could have been avoided had the Forest Department been more proactive in compensating villagers who lost their cattle to tiger attack.
“The news of involvement of five Dhangar community members shocked all of us. We condemn the brutal killing of tigers. We are living in the forest areas even before the Liberation of Goa. Many villagers have resettled elsewhere. Only a handful of families are residing in the forest area. Their livelihood is dependent on cattle milk,” Mote said.
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According to him, one cow gives 10-15 litre milk per family everyday. He added that the villagers are socio-economically very backward and have no knowledge of law, otherwise they would have perhaps thought twice before killing the tigers.
“A fortnight before the killing of tigers, a cow and a buffalo were killed in almost quick succession. Despite being aware of the situation, Forest Department did nothing to warn the villagers of tigers in the vicinity nor did they take any prompt action in giving the compensation. The entire settlement was tensed and worried about the safety of their cattle. Milch cow is very costly. I don’t know whether they really killed the tigers or not, but the incident is certainly very sad. But it could have been avoided had the Forest and State government machinery had been more vigilant and sympathetic towards the loss incurred by the villagers,” Mote said.
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Despite the fact the forest areas of Goa were declared as sanctuaries in 1999, no effort has been taken in coming out with a proper policy on the issue of man-animal conflict, he said.
“There have been instances of two women who were killed in bison attack. We don’t want the compensation status. There has to be a firm policy regarding forest dwellers vis-à-vis wildlife conservation and prompt compensation should be given,” the president of GDSSS said.
He asserted that the Dhangar community regards all forest species - flora and fauna – as essential part of their lives.
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“In all their rituals plants and animals are worshipped. Yet this unfortunate incident happened. The government should take cue from this incident and review its wildlife policy to prevent repeat of such ugly incidents,” he said.
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