Telangana; Deadly tiger attacks in rapid series in Dahegaon mandal, and later in Penchikalpet mandal from the Kumaran Bheem Asifabad district, have affected the agricultural laborers, especially women, of the cotton fields for some time. But later, they had to risk out as they could not afford to stay home for long. Cotton picking has become the most feared livelihood choice for the inhabitants of about 100 villages adjoining forest areas in the Kagaznagar division.
Three weeks after the first attack, and a week after the second, the Forest officials are unaware of the exactness of the tiger which is resorting to frantic attacks on humans. Meanwhile, several villagers have reported to the authorities that they had listened to a tiger roar in the surrounding. Because of the occurrences, a Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) has been published by the Forest officials to the villagers, to be obeyed when they move outside their homes.
As per the SOP, the villagers should avoid leaving empty gaps or pathways in agricultural fields, which means crops should be near planted for 10 rows on the edge without leaving any pathways. The villagers are asked to avoid using routes passing through forest areas, and when moving to the fields for harvesting or other procedures, they should move in clusters of a minimum of eight to 10 people. One person in the group should be deployed as a guard, whose duty it is to beat drum or whistle to threaten the animals.
People working in the field and also shepherds have been told to wear a face mask on the backside of the head to avert the tiger. Shepherds have also been asked not to bring the cattle deep inside the forest for grazing, and instead, remain within half a kilometer of the village. They should confirm the departure after 9 a.m. and return by 4 p.m.
Farmers should stay on machines while guarding the crop, and every villager risking into the field will have to exert a stick with a small bell affixed to it. Village protection committees have been formed with a sarpanch as chairperson, and the Forest Beat Officer as Convenor.
“The Forest Beat Officers are coordinating with the village sarpanches, to get the list of laborers who are going for cotton harvesting every day. The sarpanch has to ensure that one person stands guard while others are picking the cotton. Our beat officers are also taking volunteers inside the forest to track the tiger,” an official informed.The department has distributed masks for the villagers, and will sponsor drums and whistles too, he said.