A Royal Bengal Tiger is on a rampage, terrifying villagers of the Barchala area under the Dhekiajuli circle in Sonitpur district of Assam for almost a month after it was spotted first on December 27, 2021. 

“A tiger has strayed into the Barchala village, causing much chaos among locals. The Forest officials have not been able to catch it yet,” Sub Inspector Ritu Moni Das of Barchala Outpost informed EastMojo.

“We are ready, but we have not yet been able to catch hold of the tiger. We were waiting for it to come out, but the tiger did not enter the village last night. It is inside the Orang Sanctuary at present,” Dilip Saikia, Deputy Forest Ranger of Dhekiajuli, told EastMojo.

Saikia further informed that the Royal Bengal Tiger had grown old, which explained why it had ventured into the nearest village, which had plenty of cattle, from the Sanctuary. 

Originally tweeted by Hemanta Kumar Nath (@hemantakrnath) on January 13, 2022.

The tiger has attacked at least 24 cattle and livestock, and this is not the first time the village has seen a striped cat stray into the village, Saikia informed.

The village has witnessed such incidents before and people have lost lives in the past. 

The villagers have become even more careful after a resident, Premeshwar Koch, was injured following a sudden confrontation with the tiger on January 12.

“The tiger had attacked him; it bit him and scratched him two weeks ago. He is admitted to the Tumuki Medical in Dhekiajuli. He suffered injuries on his hands, and the doctors told us that he had been mentally traumatized because of the incident,” Monalisa Koch, daughter-in-law of Premeshwar Koch told EastMojo.

She further informed that Premeshwar Koch was initially taken to the Guwahati Medical College and Hospital for treatment, but he insisted on returning home. When the family saw his health deteriorate, he was taken to the Tumuki Medical Hospital in Dhekiajuli, where he is currently getting treated.

The District Magistrate of Sonitpur said that Section 144 CrPC would be imposed in the Barchala area, prohibiting the movement of people during night hours for the safety of the villagers. The order will remain in force till the forest department catches the tiger. 

Not the first incident in Orang National Park

The ever-increasing human interference has disrupted the ability of tigers to move in the Orang area owing to habitation and infrastructure development. These factors have led to the loss of the natural corridors and connectivity with adjoining forests.

The Orang tigers are at the risk of being disconnected from other habitat patches like Kaziranga and Laokhowa Bura-Chapori. “All corridors in the north, west, and east have been lost to encroachment. Straying incidents are not uncommon in the area because during winters, over the last decade, tigers have been straying into Human habitats,” Mubina Akhtar, a former Wildlife Board Member of Assam and the Secretary of Kaziranga Wildlife Society told EastMojo.

“Last year too, a tiger strayed into a nearby village. In 2016, a tigress had been poisoned by angry villagers in the fringe villages of Orang due to an attack on livestock,” Mubina informed.

The activist, who has spent at least three decades working with Wildlife in Assam, believes that another reason behind this is that when the number of tigers rises inside the park, they find it difficult to move to other connecting patches. “There are infighting incidents, and they (tigers) come out of the core area and stray into villages,” Akhtar added, further informing that Orang is home to 34 tigers at present.

Proposal to expand Orang National Park

The authorities and Forest Department are now planning to expand Orang National Park, taking into consideration the buffer area towards the Brahmaputra so that connectivity can be maintained from the Sanctuary to Kaziranga and Laokhowa and the proposal has been welcomed by Wildlife Activists across the state.

The proposed 2nd addition of Orang National Park and Tiger Reserve will have its eastern boundary near Singori of Dhekiajuli in Sonitpur district and will touch the western boundary of the first addition of Burhachapori Wildlife Sanctuary. Similarly, the western boundary will be extended up to the Shyampur area in the Darrang district.

Also read: 4 Assam tiger reserves get CATS accreditation

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