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November 11, 2009

People walk in Sundarbans to spread awareness about tiger conservation

     Kolkata: Thousands of school children, environmentalists and representative of non-governmental organizations walked across several villages located in the estuarine area of the Sundarbans of West Bengal to spread awareness about tiger conservation. The unique five-day walk was flagged off from Bally Island and will wind its way through a dozen areas before finishing at Pakhiralaya on November 13. The NGO Sanctuary Asia, the Bengal Tiger Line, the Wild Life Conservation Trust, the Wildlife Protection Society of India, the WWF and the Indian Institute of Climbers and Nature Lovers have all come together for this awareness campaign. "This is basically to enhance the tolerance level of villagers, as we have seen in the recent past, tigers getting into villages. Incidents of tigers getting inside villages have increased over the last couple of months, so, we are trying to enhance the uplift the moral of the villagers because without the help of villagers and full support of the villagers, it is practically not possible for the forest department to actually get the tiger out of the village and again send it back to the forest," said Joydeep Kundu, Coordinator, Sanctuary Asia. The campaign will use folk theatre to reach out to the villagers. Tiger dancers from Orissa are also participating in the walk. "The tiger comes to our house. It kills cows, goats, even attacks people sometimes. But we don't kill the tiger; we try to protect it. We inform the project people when the tigers come. We want to protect the tigers and bring back the tigers to Sundarbans. So we are walking for the tiger. We will walk once every year for tigers," said Sameer Nayak, a student. The campaign will also focus on the importance of villagers and forest officials working together during tiger straying incidents. Villagers are being asked to inform the forest department in case of a tiger sneaking into human habitats. The number of tiger attacks on people has been growing in the Sundarban islands due to habitat loss and dwindling prey caused by climate change.
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