Sherni strikes a chord with biologists and wildlife officials

“Meet the real-life Sherni - IFS Officer KM Abharna (MH:2013). The woman who walked the forest handling the T1 Tiger (Avni) conflict management on the ground. Here is a tale of an officer on the field who dealt the crisis with utmost courage”.
Representative Image
Representative Image

Chennai

This tweet from the All India Indian Forest Officers’ Association has been trending for more than a week among the young IFS officers in India. The recently released movie Sherni, starring Vidya Balan as a no-nonsense district forest officer concerned about a tigress and her cubs, has struck a chord among a section of Indian wildlife officials and independent biologists based in TN. “The scenes in the movie Sherni is the story of tigress Anvi killed in an encounter. But this is almost a recall of what happened in Mudumalai in 2015.
Though this film is about Anvi, almost the same happened in 2015 in TN. The trigger-happy special task force was given more importance than the wildlife-trained darting team. We failed once and we were not given enough time to capture the tiger alive,” recalls a forest officer who was part of the team that could not do much to protect the ‘suspected man eater’ that allegedly killed three villagers in the Nilgiri biosphere. The movie also kindled the minds of forest officers and biologists to recall their dedicated officers who stood for conservation like the first IFS woman officer in TN, Aruna Basu Sarcar, known for handling timber mafia in the ’90s, and retired principal chief conservator of forests (PCCF) CK Sreedharan, who was against the neutrino project in the tiger reserve. “Conservation and development cannot go hand in hand and the political bosses should ensure that the balance is not lost,” says noted botanist and professor in taxonomy, D Narasimhan.
“It was the clear political will of late chief minister M Karunanidhi and the correct advice by former PCCF CK Sreedharan that stopped the neutrino laboratory project in the heart of a tiger reserve. The neutrino would have wiped out the tiger and the mountain ecosystem,” Narasimhan adds. “We are always caught between conservation and development. But we believe in a few strong factors that will reduce the conflict and increase the population of tigers and prey base during the next wildlife census,” says a senior forest officer. “Declaration of private forests along wildlife corridors, restricted tourism activities in tiger reserves, strategic plans to move tribals out of tiger reserves and surplus seasonal rains are some of the positives we are looking forward to as short-term gains,” the official says. “Tigers and elephants know their way inside the jungle, but their migration is an issue as new dams, railway tracks and large scale mining works are taken up in their habitat and we have long term problems,” the officer adds.

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