Fingerlings distributed among Sunderbans fishermen to keep them away from tiger habitat
Chief Wildlife Warden V K Yadav told PTI, hundreds of fingerlings were given to villagers in remote areas for raising fish in local ponds so that they do not negotiate the creeks crisscrossing the forest and fall prey to tigers. It takes about 7 to 10 days for the spawn to grow upto fry stage.
The West Bengal Forest Department on Monday distributed fingerlings among villagers in Sunderbans in South 24 Parganas district to dissuade locals from venturing into creeks, adjacent to core forest area, to catch shrimps, crabs and collect firewood. Chief Wildlife Warden V K Yadav told PTI, hundreds of fingerlings were given to villagers in remote areas for raising fish in local ponds so that they do not negotiate the creeks crisscrossing the forest and fall prey to tigers.
It takes about 7 to 10 days for the spawn to grow upto fry stage. As soon as the fry grow up to 10-15 cm size or roughly equal to the size of a finger it is known as fingerling. Fingerling is the proper size for stocking in table fish production ponds. "We are organising such programmes in collaboration with World Wildlife Fund (WWF). We will cover 26 joint forest management committees (JFMC) who will dig 20 ponds in each village," Yadav said.
Mostly Rohu fingerlings will be grown by a group of villagers, associated with a particular pond, and sold in markets. Fishermen were also provided with small ovens fitted with LPG cyclinders to stop them from collecting firewood from the reserve forest.
As options are limited in the Sunderbans - the world's largest mangrove forest intersected by rivulets and creeks - fishermen often anchor their boats on the banks and enter the jungle to collect wood. Many of them are mauled to death by tigers. As many as 100 LPG-run ovens were supplied to the fishermen and another 500 would be covered under the scheme in the coming days, he said.
State Forest Minister Rajib Banerjee, who was present at a programme at Kumirmari village, said that the government wanted to ensure zero casualty in tiger attacks by providing means of livelihood so that fishermen need not go to forests. The Forest Department has already planted over 2 crore mangrove saplings in Sunderbans, while another 3 crore will be done within December this year, he said.
"As wished by Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee we need to offset the damage due to cyclone Amphan as the mangrove cover plays an important role in saving the Sunderbans delta, a Unesco World Heritage site, and south Bengal from the fury of cyclones," he later told reporters. Mangroves are salt-tolerant trees, especially of the family Rhizophoraceae, forming dense thickets along tidal shores and have well-developed aerial roots.
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