<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>After the electrocution deaths of six tigers in just over a year, the state forest department will promote solar fencing of farmsteads to prevent animals from entering them. Officials note that many farmers who illegally electrify their farm fences or put live wires near their fields claim that they do so to prevent crop depredations by wild animals. However, this leads to these animals being electrocuted on coming in contact with the live wires. Since November 4, 2016, a total of six tigers have been electrocuted in the state. This includes Srinivas, the son of Maharashtra’s iconic tiger Jai, who was electrocuted to death in the Nagbhid range in April.In 2017, Maharashtra has lost 15 tigers due to various causes of which five deaths are due to electrocution.On Tuesday, senior officials from the state forest department attended a meeting in New Delhi with their counterparts from the National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA). “We will undertake joint patrolling with field staff from the Maharashta State Electricity Distribution Company Limited (MahaVitaran) to prevent illegal hooking of power lines,” said an official who attended the meeting.Another official added that based on a vulnerability map drawn up by the Wildlife Institute of India (WII) for the Vidarbha landscape, areas which needed top priority to mitigate man-animal conflict will see solar fencing for farms being rolled out. This has been suggested by a three-member committee of senior forest officials. It will be on the lines of the areas around the Tadoba Andhari Tiger Reserve (TATR) where around 2,000 small and marginal farmers have seen their fields being protected using this technique. “It has turned out to be quite successful and cheap,” the official said, adding that fencing a two to three hectare area cost around Rs15,000, of which 75% was contributed by the forest department with the beneficiary pitching in with the rest. “Awareness will also be created in the farmers and offenders will be booked under the relevant sections of the Wildlife Protection Act and the Electricity Act, 2003,” he noted. However, forest officials admit that there are instances where live wires are placed around farms for poaching animals, including herbivores for bush meat. Maharashtra has six tiger reserves, namely Tadoba Andhari, Pench, Bor, Sahyadri, Melghat and Navegaon Nagzira. According to the tiger census, results for which were released in 2014, India has 2,226 tigers, up from 1,706 in 2010. The state has around 190 such big cats, more than the figure of 169 in 2010.BOX:*In 2016, India lost 98 tigers–the highest since 2010. Of these Maharashtra accounted for 15 mortalities–the highest so far. The number of tiger deaths as on November 15, 2017, stands at 78. *In 2015, Maharashtra’s tiger deaths stood at 12, up from seven in 2014 and 10 in 2013.

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Save the tigers: Post electrocution deaths, State forest department to promote solar fencing in Maharashtra