Lucknow, Sep 17 : A committee set up by the Yogi Adityanath government to look into the causes of tiger deaths in Dudhwa Tiger Reserve (DTR) in the last few months, has recommended that all 18 villages lying inside the tiger reserve be relocated ???immediately??? as increasing human population and growing agricultural, social and commercial activities were adding to the biotic pressure on the protected areas.
The committee has also recommended getting a scientific study done of the Reserve for better management.
The study of the quality of habitat and availability of prey base should also be taken up in a scientific manner like in reserves in Uttarakhand and MP, said the committee.
The committee has submitted its report to the state government and suggested that attention on grasslands, habitat, corridors and water availability, besides the physical infrastructure that is needed to support the increasing number of big cats.
The cultivation of ???satha??? paddy (summer crop) in areas around the reserve further depletes the water availability for wildlife in summers. It is a water intensive crop. At the same time, extensive use of pesticides in farming pollutes the water and animals drinking it have an adverse impact on their health.
The committee recommended checking the use of pesticides. The report highlighted a substantial increase in the construction of concrete roads in and around the reserve maximising the chances of man-animal conflict.
On June 9, when the fourth tiger death was reported, Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath had instructed forest Minister Arun Kumar Saxena and senior officials from the department to visit the site where the carcass was recovered and submit a report.
Senior officials posted at DTR were also transferred as a fallout.
The state government later constituted a four-member high-level committee to look into the cause of deaths and recommend ways for better management of wildlife.
The committee, in its report, said another challenge at DTR was shortage of staff. ???The staff strength is almost half of the sanctioned, which affects monitoring of the area and the wildlife. Of the 399 sanctioned posts of field staff (forest guards, wildlife guards, deputy rangers and rangers) only 198 are occupied. These must be filled up immediately,??? said the report.
The committee took into account the post-mortem report that hinted towards some of the dead felines having no traces of food and water in their stomachs.
Taking note of it, the committee said since DTR has seen a gradual increase in the number of tigers, there was a need to match it up with the population of herbivores (prey base) or it will lead to increased man-animal conflict.