Govt considering setting up of piggery farms to protect tigers

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Kolkata, Jul 20 (UNI) With a view to providing a further fillip to the increasing tiger population in some reserved forests, the West Bengal government is considering setting up of piggery farms in core areas for easy prey of the big cats.

State Forest Minister Ananta Roy gave this information here yesterday while refuting some news reports quoting NGOs as saying that the Royal Bengal Tiger in the Buxa Tiger Reserve in North Bengal's Jalpaiguri district had become almost extinct.

''The latest Census has reported twelve big cats in the Buxa Tiger Reserve, double the number of tigers according to a 2006 Census report,'' Mr Roy told reporters.

Media reports said large scale poaching in Dooars and presence of troops during the ''All Clear'' operation against insurgent groups in 2003-04 were responsible for the dwindling tiger population in the Buxa forests.

As the Bhutan Army dismantled camps of ULFA, KLO and other rebel groups in the southern part of Bhutan, Indian troops had put up barricades in the Indian side, mostly core areas of reserve forests, to prevent the rebels from fleeing.

Mr Roy claimed that the tiger population in Sundarbans was also quite encouraging with the figure available from the latest Census at 344, prompting the government to consider setting up of piggery farms in the core areas of the tiger reserve forests.

He said a high level meeting, chaired by Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee with wildlife experts and forest conservation officials, has drawn up a tentative proposal to set up piggery farms in core areas so that big cats find easy prey in their habitat.

Mr Roy said the proposals were at the consultation stage to find out details such as who will set up the farms and financial back up for the project.

He said if the pigs were released in the forests, the big cats might find abundant food and would not come out of their habitat and fall prey to the people.

He said most of the aged tigers tend to venture into localities for food after failing to hunt down their own prey.

''The forest department is also planning to import female Red Panda to increase the population of the rare animal,'' Mr Roy said.

He said the dwindling population of the Red Panda could be restored by captive breeding and finally released in the forests in hills of Darjeeling.

The Red Panda is a highly endangered mammal only found in parts of Tibet, Sikkim, Arunachal Pradesh and Darjeeling.

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