Valpoi: Raising deep concerns over the alleged harassment meted out to those arrested over the deaths of four tigers at Golavli in the Mhadei Wildlife Sanctuary, villagers of Sattari taluka on Sunday said the unprecedented tiger killings took place due to the gross negligence of the forest department.
Addressing media persons, Nandakumar Kopardekar and other villagers maintained that the tiger deaths pointed to a complete failure of the state machinery in protecting wild cats in the wildlife sanctuary.
Kopardekar asked as why no action had been taken when the incident of a tiger mauling the cattle to death was brought to the notice of the department by the concerned villagers residing at Golavli village.
They accused forest officials of harassing the family members of the arrested villagers, who are being allegedly ill-treated in the name of investigation.
“We do not support the tiger killings, but on humanitarian ground we stand by the harassed families. We will take out a morcha if the officials do not stop the harassment,” Kopardekar warned, demanding a free and fair probe into the episode.
Devidas Gaonkar, a villager, said the man-animal conflict is not a new phenomenon but the forest officials have not taken any steps to protect wild animals and to safeguard human settlements.
“The forest department is good only in harassing villagers living in wildlife areas for decades. The incident would never have taken place if the department had taken steps to protect the wild cats,” another villager maintained.
The villagers threatened to protest against the department if the forest officials “boss around” the villagers in the name of protecting wildlife.
The villagers said the department has woken up only after the incident.
“They are now showing keen interest in solving the case and want to wipe out the blot on the department,” the villagers emphasised.
Vithoba Gaonkar, Arjun Gurav, Vithu Pawane, Babu Humane, Krishna Nene, Sakro Zore and Vithoba Gaonkar were also present at the media briefing.