Efforts on tp keep the tiger at bay
12 Dec 2008, 0421 hrs IST, Neha Shukla, TNN
LUCKNOW: The two primary schools in Saili Kiratpur village of Barabanki division have witnessed a sudden lowering of attendance since Monday. Parents are wary of their children stepping out of homes even for attending the school. The confirmed presence of a tiger in the area has brought life almost to a standstill in the region.
The sugarcane fields are standing in wait but the farmers have shelved their harvesting plans till they get some news of the tiger's whereabouts. The local forest officials and villagers shared that no fresh movement has been noticed in the area after Monday. "There has neither been a kill nor any fresh pugmarks have been seen,'' said DK Singh, forest ranger.
But there is a general suspicion that the tiger could be lurking in the dense sugarcane fields. What further strengthens this suspicion is the tiger's pugmarks found on the wet soil three days back. This goes to prove that the beast had been prowling among the human hutments and fields. Though the pugmarks could be traced back to Vahlidpur, the first village of Barabanki division which is adjacent to Mahmoodabad range of Sitapur, Saili Kiratpur has the marks stretching over a larger area before the track is lost entirely.
The animal had, in fact, covered a three kilometre distance and crossed three villages of the division -- Vahlidpur, Deoria and Saili Kiratpur -- before it took an unknown route. The pugmarks are seen either on the wet ground or the freshly ploughed fields but since most of the area is still covered with sugarcane, has a grass cover or people walking by, pugmarks couldn't be traced beyond a point.
The theories extended are that it might have moved along the Dariyabad canal or a railway track, both in the vicinity of the village to a far-off place. It could also have taken the route back to Mahmoodabad range of Sitapur from where it had entered Barabanki. But, it is all guess work again.
The forest officials might keep a watch for another week before they declare the area tiger-free. But they admit that rumours of tiger-spotting are flying fast and thick among the villagers. The forest office had received reports on Wednesday night from Asaratput village, about eight kms from Saili Kiratput, about a man having seen a tiger while it attacked his cattle. "But what we noticed on the cow's body were not the marks of tiger-attack,'' said the forest ranger.
The villagers are also getting used to springing out of their beds in the dead of the night as someone shouts a warning signal about a tiger roaming in the area. According to the villagers, the area has a lot of neelgais but for the past few days, these animals have not been seen. Tigers are said to venture into sugarcane fields in pursuit of its prey that is the neelgais.
The people in the area have already been put on alert and have been told to arrange for bonfires at regular intervals on the public pathways. They have been told to stay indoors in the evening and move out in groups if the need be.
It is this tiger only which had been on the move for the past one week in Sitapur. Though, the forest officials are unable to confirm but in all probability it is the same animal which had lost its way into the sugarcane fields after it ventured out of Pilibhit on November 11.
It is moving 10 to 12 kms every night making it difficult for the forest staff to trap it. It has not harmed any human beings in its walk all through. However, in Pilibhit, it did kill a man and injured another.