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To avoid tiger attacks in Sundarbans, villagers to take up apiculture in native villages

Kolkata: In a significant stride to stop villagers from collecting honey from the core area of the Sundarbans forest, the state Forest department will encourage the villagers to take up apiculture right in their native villages.
It may be mentioned that tiger straying in the villages of Sundarbans have come down drastically in the last few years. However, people being mauled by tigers venturing deep into forests while collecting honey or fishing in the creeks of the river is not a rare phenomenon.
As per estimates of researchers every year, 50 fishermen or honey collectors are killed in tiger attacks.
"We want to bring down human deaths due to tiger attack to zero. Keeping this in mind, we will help villagers in taking up apiculture in all possible forms right in the villages so that they do not need to venture deep into the forests. We are taking assistance from experts of Bidhan Chandra Krishi Viswavidyalaya," said RP Saini, director of Sundarban Biosphere Reserve.
The Forest department is also taking up a project to help villagers in breeding of crabs in association with the state Fisheries department. "Both these projects will begin from the next financial year," a senior official of the Forest department said.
According to the official, people in this part of the state have a belief that honey collected from bee hives in the forest are more nourishing.
"However, this is not at all true and we are taking up awareness campaigns to inculcate this lesson that honey of the best quality can be produced through proper procedure of bee keeping," the official added.
The fate of the women who have lost their husbands in tiger attacks has been a major cause of concern for the state government and has prodded the government in taking up the project.
"They are termed as the 'tiger widows' of Bengal. After losing their family's bread earner, they are left to fend for themselves and their children and for the widows, the search for regular income is compounded by the social stigma they face," the senior official said.
A study published in the journal Environmental Health Insights in 2016 found that women widowed by tigers are often blamed – unjustly – for the deaths of their husbands.
In February, the state Panchayats and Rural Development Department announced that it was adopting the 'widow villages' of Sundarbans and would provide the widows and their children alternative sources of livelihood. The other promises include subsidised rice at Rs 2 per kg, home schemes and health insurance.
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