INDIA: A tigress at the Tadoba-Andhari Tiger Reserve (TATR) mauled a woman forest guard of the area to death on Saturday morning. TATR is located in the Chandrapur district in Eastern Maharashtra.
The forest guard Swati Dhumane-Sonkamble (37), along with three forest labourers, was carrying out the sign survey at the tiger reserve (TATR) as part of the “All India Tiger Estimation (AITE) 2022”.
The sign survey is a process of tracking the presence of tigers by jotting down signs like pugmarks, scat, and scratch marks on trees in the forests.
In the midst of their expedition walking on foot, they came across the 10-year-old (approximately) tigress known as “Maya” sitting on the tourist road, about 4 km from Kolara Gate, in section 97 of the TATR.
After spotting the tigress, the troupe re-routed and proceeded through the adjoining patch of forest. However, the tigress followed them sensing movement inside the forest, the tigress followed them. She attacked Dhumane from behind, who was following the labourers. The labourers raised an alarm, but to no avail, by then the tigress dragged her inside the forest and could not help her.
The press note issued by the TATR Field Director Jitendra Ramgaokar, said that under the “All India Tiger Estimation (AITE) 2022” program, forest guard Swati Dhumane was doing a sign survey with the assistance of three forest labourers on foot when the tigress, Maya attacked and killed Dhumane, around 8 am Saturday.
Forest officials rushed to the spot soon after the incident. After a search, they recovered the mauled body of Dhumane, which was sent to Sub-District Hospital at Chimur in neighbouring Bhandara district for post mortem. Incidentally, Saturday was the first day of the survey. After the incident, Ramgaokar temporarily suspended the survey.
Dhumane is survived by her husband Sandip Sonkamble and a four-year-old daughter Arushi.
Speaking to electronic media, Sandip Sonkamble said that no trained workers (specially trained to handle such situations) had accompanied his wife and forest labourers for the on-foot survey. Sandip alleged that the forest conservator should be held responsible for this lapse.
11 years ago, Dhumane had joined the forest service at the Chandrapur division. She shifted to the Kolara core zone of TATR in December last year after working for a decade in Rajura and Jivati. Dhumane is the third human Maya has killed. Earlier, in May 2017 she had killed a forest labourer and in December 2020, a woman in the TATR.