From afar, it’s easy to admire the tiger. But when this beautiful beast visits your village and threatens you, your family and your livestock, your commitment to tiger preservation may be sorely tested. Wherever wild tiger populations survive and come into contact with landscapes dominated by humans, they pose a threat by preying on livestock, and, less commonly, on people. This is the issue faced by people living in Pissurlem village of Goa. The sighting of a tiger and a mother leopard with three cubs near settlement areas and mining dumps have left the villagers in panic and fear.
Pissurlem a predominantly mining village was once known for its Tiger habitat. Mharinganachi Rai and Pejali Rai are the sacred groves considered to be a epository of biodiversity. Mining activities that started during the Portuguese era and later increased on a massive scale have resulted in displacing wild animals that inhabited these areas.
According to the sources, Hanuman Parab, a member of Goa State Wildlife Board and resident of Pissurlem, said, “Pissurle and surrounding areas have housed tigers since the ancient past. Bordering the villages of Pissurlem and Vaghure, there is a temple dedicated to the deity of Vyaghreswar, the lord of Tigers. The villagers believe that if a tiger is killed, it will spell doom for the family responsible for this act and hence, no one dares to kill a tiger. But, deforestation carried out for mining activities have threatened the lives and livelihoods of wild animals.”
Besides the Tiger, some villagers informed that a mother leopard along with three cubs is roaming around the settlement areas in Pissurlem.
“When I was passing by a mining dump, a big cat that was resting suddenly woke up and disappeared. I ran away from the spot. Tiger sighting is not new to our village. They are always around,” said 62-year-old Sudhakar Parab.
“As complaints were received about leopards killing stray dogs and goats, our staff has installed traps in the mining area.” Said Valpoi range forest officer Jeffry D’silva, who deployed forest personnel to the areas where the leopard was sighted. Conflicts between tigers and humans will continue to increase unless the destruction and loss forests are halted.