Farmers in the erstwhile Adilabad district are in a difficult situation. They are upbeat by a significant increase in cotton produce prices, but they are also afraid to harvest the crop in the aftermath of increased tiger movement and a recent human kill reported in Kumram Bheem Asifabad district.
Cotton growers were incredibly happy to receive a record-high rate of Rs 9,100 per quintal of cotton and hoped it would soon surpass Rs 10,000. Some had already begun harvesting the crop.
However, many farmers have yet to begin the activity, fearing attacks by animals, particularly tigers, following a number of recent tiger sightings in the area, including near agriculture fields.
“We are tensed over the movement of tigers in the fringes of forests and agriculture fields. Hiring laborers has become a tough task considering the unprecedented sighting of tigers in farms. Incidentally, two out of three human kills occurred in Kumram Bheem Asifabad district from 2020 to 2022 and during the harvesting season of the cotton crop,” K Narayana, a farmer from Karjelli village in Chintalamanepalli mandal said.
On November 15, Sidam Bheem (69) was mauled to death by a tiger while collecting cotton balls in Gondapur hamlet under Choupanguda village in Wankidi of Kumram Bheem Asifabad district. Pasula Nirmala (18) was killed on November 29, 2020, while gathering cotton balls in her field in Kondapalli village, Penchikalpet mandal.
“The farmers look like animals to a tiger while they bend to collect cotton balls. Tigers and other big cats like leopards develop aberrant behavior and tend to kill farmers when they are in search of territory,” S Venugopal, a forest range officer specialized in wildlife protection said.
According to forest officials, farmers were advised to leave their farms before sunset and to make a loud noise if they came across the animal.
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