Gabhar residents in Banke terrorised by tiger attacksThe haphazard construction of settlements near forest areas has increased human-wildlife conflict, officers say.
The residents of Gabhar settlement in Raptisonari Rural Municipality-1, Banke, have been living in abject terror for the past few days as tigers from Banke National Park have started entering human settlements.
On September 12, a 45-year-old man of Gabhar was attacked and dragged into a nearby forest by a tiger. His body was recovered the next day.
The same day, a tiger pounced on a cow grazing on the premises of a local community school in Gabhar. The tiger was chased away by the villagers.
“The residents of Gabhar, Kusuma and Sauri among other settlements near the national park forest are terrified. The concerned authorities have not taken any concrete initiatives to protect the settlements from tiger attacks,” said Chandra Bahadur Oli, the chairman of Raptaisonari Ward 1.
The settlement of Gabhar is around 100 metres from the Agaiya-Kusum road along the East-West Highway. The local residents, who have long since suffered from tiger menace, demand that the authorities concerned take necessary steps to protect the settlements from wildlife attacks.
Last week, 37-year-old Kaushila Khatri of Gabhar had gone to a nearby forest to graze her cattle when a tiger attacked one of her goats. She escaped the site but has been terror-stricken ever since. Khatri hasn’t left her house since the incident, locals say.
According to chairman Oli, tigers are seen roaming around the highway, leaving the local residents in a state of anxiety. A tiger attempted to pounce on a moving motorcycle in the area on Tuesday, he added.
Kaishila Khatri, 37, of Gabhar, says children in the area are frightened to step out of their houses due to fear of tiger attacks.
“We have been requesting the park administration to take the necessary initiatives to prevent tigers from entering human settlements. But the concerned authority does not pay heed to us. Security personnel arrive in our village only when people die in wildlife attacks,” said Khatri.
Three days after the September 12 tiger incident, the Banke National Park took initiatives to take control over a man-eating tiger.
“On Wednesday, two elephants were mobilised to search for the tiger. We have also set a trap and installed sensor cameras in two different places to monitor the tiger’s movement,” said Shyam Kumar Sah, chief conservation officer of Banke National Park. “Nepal Army personnel have also been mobilised to provide security in nearby settlements.”
According to the data of the national park, the park is home to 21 tigers as per the recent census. Until now, three people have been killed in separate incidents of tiger attack in the area.
“The haphazard construction of settlements near forest areas has given rise to human-wildlife conflict. The local population should move their settlements from the forest areas to avoid such incidents,” Sah said.
Dhani Kumari Khatri, vice chairperson of Rapti Sonari Rural Municipality, agrees with Sah. He says forest encroachment is one of the main reasons behind the rising incidents of human-wildlife conflict.
“We are discussing with the concerned stakeholders to shift settlements near forest areas to safer locations. This is the only way we can minimise human-wildlife conflict,” Khatri said.