Animal-man conflict on rise at India's Corbett Tiger park
The Times of India newspaper reported Thursday that the animal-man conflict came into the open last week with two attacks, one of a woman being killed by a tiger and another of a leopard striking a group of three boys.
The incidents around Dhikuli led to a furious uprising of villagers who besieged forest officials demanding that the big cats be declared "adam khor'' or maneaters and be destroyed.
The Corbett reserve, billed as one of the success stories to preserve tigers, has a tiger population of 164 out India's 1,411 animals. India holds over half the world's tiger population, according to the National Tiger Conservation Authority.
The report says the area has become a conflict zone with a teeming tiger population and the high volume of tourists at so-called resorts that offer weekend parties and birthday bashes instead of wildlife viewing.
But in recent years, massive commercialisation has been posing an ecological and environmental threat and the attacks, which some say were waiting to happen, have highlighted the state government's failure to notify the park's buffer zone, as required under the Wildlife Protection Act.
The boys who had been attacked by a leopard, pointed out officials, were a good 1.25 km in the core area of the park while the tiger had killed its victim in the fringe area. The tiger appears to have been surprised as it had made a kill
Corbett has been a haunt for tourists and wildlife lovers for a long time. In recent years the number of people coming here has increased dramatically. Presently, every season, from November 15 to June 15. more than 70,000 visitors come here from India and abroad. Corbett remains closed between June 16 and November 14, during the monsoon rains.
Corbett park director R K Mishra has been quoted as saying that a buffer zone is likely to be notified in the coming week.
The buffer zone would give the park management more teeth to make rules for the adjoining areas.
The Corbett National Park lies in the Nainital, Pauri Garwhal and Bijnore districts of Uttaranchal state. The present area of the Reserve is 1318.54 sq. km. including 520 sq. km. of core area and 797.72 sq. km. of buffer area. The core area forms the Jim Corbett National Park while the buffer contains reserve forests (496.54 sq.km.) as well as the Sonanadi Wildlife Sanctuary (301.18 sq.km.)
The core is bounded to the North by the Kanda Ridge, with a height of 1043 m at its highest point. The entire area of the reserve is mountainous and falls in the Shivalik and Outer Himalaya geological region. It forms the catchment area of the Ramganga, a tributary of River Ganges.
The park is named after Edward James "Jim" Corbett (1875-1955) a British hunter, conservationist and naturalist, famous for slaying a large number of man-eating tigers and leopards in India.
Corbett held the rank of colonel in the British colonial Indian Army and worked for the Bengal and North Western Railway. However, Corbett was frequently called upon by the then colonial government to slay man-eating tigers and leopards who had killed people in the villages of the Garhwal and Kumaon region.
Corbett between 1907 and 1938 shot much-feared man-eaters such as the Champawat Tiger, the Leopard of Rudraprayag, the Tigers of Chowgarh and the Panar Leopard, who had cumulatively killed over a thousand people. His success in slaying the man-eaters earned him much respect and fame amongst the people residing in the villages of Kumaon, many of whom considered him a sadhu (saint).
Corbett was an avid photographer and after his retirement, authored the Man-Eaters of Kumaon, Jungle Lore and other books recounting his hunts and experiences, which enjoyed much critical acclaim and commercial success. Corbett later spoke out for the need to protect India's wildlife from extermination.