JAIPUR: The forest administration at Mukundra Hills Tiger Reserve (MHTR) is having sleepless nights as villagers are abandoning unproductive cattle inside the reserve after dislodging the protection wall.
After the state government and the Centre tightened the noose on cattle sale for purpose of slaughtering, old bovines, which cannot be used for milking, have become a burden for these villagers.
Facing difficulty to feed these animals, farmers are setting them free in the forest. At MHTR, 300 buffaloes are under department custody. However, not many owners have turned up till date to get them released.
A senior forest official said in the villages, the population of cattle is higher than human as majority of them belong to Gujjar community who keeps cattle in abundance. At Darrah range, these villagers have dismantled a 150-feet protection wall. “Cattle in large number inside the tiger reserve can lead to overgrazing. Not many villagers have turned up for releasing them as they are unproductive. These bovines are kept near Sawan Badho Dam so they do not degrade the thick vegetation,” an official said. A forest staff said the department does not have the power to register a case on villagers for damaging the protection wall, which is a public property. It could be registered by the police administration under the sections of the Indian Penal Code (IPC).
However, this issue is not taken seriously by police.
Three weeks ago, a villager was captured inside the tiger reserve on a trap camera, nut no action has been taken till date fearing protest. A forest guard said, “It is challenging to work in a life-threatening environment. Villagers in this area have political patronage and are not scared of unarmed forest guards. There is no administrative support even if we get attacked. Moreover, in this case, the villagers have lodged a cross FIR against forest staff, which is demotivating for us.”