Toilets, Cooking Gas, Pucca Houses, Tap Water Can Prevent Human-Tiger Conflict
In areas surrounding the Pilibhit Tiger Reserve, instances of tiger venturing in human habitat and attacks on humans are very common. Also common is that almost all the victims of tiger attacks are poor villagers. It is not that tigers spare prosperous farmers, but the poor are easy targets because of their compulsions. Prosperous farmers are much better equipped to reduce casualties due to human-wildlife conflict. Since time immemorial, villagers have been venturing into the forest for collecting wood. Naturally, wild animals perceive this as an incursion into their territory and attack the intruders. Human-wildlife conflict ensues. But what if the villagers never required wood as a fuel and used gas instead? Then they would never have to go into the forest in the first place. Thus a significant number of lives lost would be reduced.
Take drinking water next. Farmers, lacking access to potable water in their villages, have to venture into the nearby stream to fill their water containers. Often tigers which venture out of the forest drink from the same stream. Perceiving the humans as a threat to their safety, the tigers would attack humans in self-defense. If the farmers had access to clean, drinking water inside their villages then they would never have to go to the stream to get water. Poor villagers are still living in kaccha houses and these unsustainable housings are vulnerable to easy penetration by man-eating tigers. Construction of pucca houses would solve this problem instantly. Being more secure, pucca houses would be difficult to penetrate by tigers. No more cases of tigers pouncing on sleeping people.
Each time a villager needs to go to relieve them, they have to brave the peril of the tiger. The villagers are helpless: they don’t have proper toilets in their own houses. If toilets were constructed for these people within their own houses then they would never have to go.
Harvesting machines are revolutionizing agriculture, but they do not exist for the villages around Pilibhit tiger reserve. Humans have to go into their sugarcane fields on foot to harvest their crops. If these villagers had the modern harvesting machines, then the tigers would flee due to the noise made by the machines.
The Pilibhit tiger reserve has the shape of an inverted ‘U’. Between the two lines of the ‘U’ lie villages which are considered to be corridors for tigers. So, making a fence around the forest would deny these corridors to the animals. However, if the farmers were prosperous enough, then they could construct fences around their own fields and house using their own resources.
Development of village societies is essential for preventing human-wildlife conflict. Gas as a fuel, proper drinking water, functional toilets within proper houses, and modern agricultural machines are all marks of a prosperous, developed agrarian society. As long as these villagers will remain in impoverished and backward conditions, the human-wildlife conflict will persist. It is the need of the hour that conservationists start working to develop the villages so that human-wildlife conflict is prevented.
Increasing Population of Tigers
The Pilibhit Forest Division was notified by the Government of Uttar Pradesh as a Tiger Reserve in 2014. Since then, the tiger population has shot up from a mere 22 in 2014 to a sizeable 42 in 2015. Latest estimates for 2016 put the tiger numbers at 60. Besides tigers, the population of other species has also substantially increased.