Fear has gripped the villagers of Tamsi (K) in Bheempur mandal, Adilabad as a tiger strayed into the area on Monday. The wild cat was spotted by a woman who was washing clothes on the bank of Penganga river when it came to drink water. The woman soon raised an alarm in the village and alerted the villagers. The villagers then locked their doors to protect themselves.
The tiger then strayed near the village primary school, forcing teachers to lock the children in the classroom. Armed with sticks, the villagers ran in the direction of the tiger to chase it into the forest.
Penganga river forms the border between Maharashtra and Telangana. According to forest officials, the tiger came from Tippeshwar wildlife sanctuary in Maharashtra. Reports suggest that in the past few weeks, five cows were attacked by the tiger.
Speaking to TNM, Bhoomakka, a resident of Tamsi said, “We are under severe distress. We are not venturing out because of the tiger. This is the plight of all the villagers. For how long should we be gripped by this fear?” she asked.
According to locals, for the past one month, there have been rumours of the tiger being spotted in several neighbouring villages following which they have self-imposed curfew and avoiding going out of the village, particularly during evenings. The villagers also allege laxity by the forest officials.
Another resident, Mukya Raasanna, a farmer said that he suffered a loss of Rs 30,000 in agriculture due to the tiger on prowl. Raasanna is cultivating cotton and dal in 12 acres. However, since January 14, he has been forced to sit at home. “We are unable to go to our fields out of fear. Our cotton plantation was in its last stage but we couldn’t pick the cotton. As a result, at least 5 quintals of cotton were ruined.”
Parents have also refused to send their children to the school. Vankhade Prabhakar, chairman of the school development committee told Deccan Chronicle that the strength of the school is 80 and half of them stopped coming to the school after the tiger was spotted.
To avoid the human-animal conflict and any loss of life, the forest department has deputed a 40-member team to maintain vigil. The forest team has set up a camp near Penganga. A ban has been imposed on farmers going to the fields. Villagers allege that the Kawal Tiger Reserve Field Director CP Vinod told them that if they continue to stay in their homes, without going to farms or grazing cattle for one week, the movement of the tiger wouldn’t be disturbed and the animal would voluntarily leave the village. This response has irked the villagers. “How can he assure that? We are the ones who are suffering here,” said Raasanna.
Meanwhile, Adilabad District Forest Officer, Prabakar, told TNM that they have put in all safety measures in place to avoid any human-animal conflict. “Our teams are on patrol.”
Appealing the villagers to maintain calm, he said, “Tigers travel fast. In an hour, a tiger could travel 10 kms or more. So if there is no disturbance, it could go to Kawal forest reserve within a day.”