Adilabad: A teenage girl was mauled to death by a tiger at Kumram Bheem in the Asifabad area on Sunday.

According to KB Asifabad District Forest Officer S. Shantaram, the incident occurred in a cotton field that is located about one and a half km inside the forest.

A senior forest officer said people are perhaps facing the consequences of unmindful and unchecked encroachments in the forests thereby disturbing the habitat of the wild animals.

"The government needs to take stern measures to address the issue. This is very important to protect the big cats as well as the humans," said another officer who is familiar with the area.

Kondapalli village is located in Penchikalpet Mandal of Kagaznagar division in the district. It connects Penchikalpet with Salgupalli in Bejjur Mandal. It was once a thick miscellaneous forest and a prime habitat for wild animals, tigers being at the top of the list.

The encroachments took place on a large scale in the 1990s. There was a huge influx of people from neighboring areas in Maharashtra. The problem of illegal felling of trees continues to this day.

"The Kagaznagar forest division should be declared as a satellite core of the Kawal Tiger Reserve (KTR). Such a move would enhance the surveillance and protection of the big cats, whose number is steadily rising," said Mirza Karim Baig of the Forest and Wildlife Protection Society.

The idea of elevating Kagaznagar forest as satellite core of the KTR was first floated by the then Forest Divisional Officer A. Narasimha Reddy in 2017. He had done so to provide better protection to the migrant big cats whose number was steadily growing.

"Unless such measures are initiated, there is no hope for improvement of habitats for tigers. It will also create alternative means of livelihood to local people while making the place safer for the wild animals," said a field-level forest department official pleading anonymity.

S. Harpal Singh

S. Harpal Singh has been working as a reporter for 32 years in Telangana, the last 20 working in Adilabad district. He has been covering tribal and environmental issues. After a 16 year stint at The Hindu, he retired as Senior Assistant Editor, in June 2020.

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