Elusive man-eater tiger gives sleepless nights in Uttar Pradesh
January 18th, 2009 - 10:02 am ICT by IANS
Lucknow, Jan 18 (IANS) A young man-eater tiger that has killed four humans in a forested area in Uttar Pradesh is giving sleepless nights to villagers and wildlife officials.The repeated failure to trap or shoot down the two-year-old tiger that had strayed out of the thick forests of Pilibhit in the Himalayan terai belt two months ago has left state wildlife officials in this north Indian state totally crestfallen and frustrated.
Their desperation has led them to now give up all efforts to trap the animal through a bait or with the use of tranquilizer bullets. “Now that it has taken four human lives, we have no option but to gun down the tiger,” Uttar Pradesh principal chief conservator of forests D.N.S. Suman told IANS.
After traversing a good 300 to 400 km over the past two months, the big cat is currently hovering in and around a 100-hectare forest pocket near Kumarganj in Sultanpur district, about 130 km from the state capital.
It killed its fourth human victim Jan 15, bringing the official machinery on its toes.
In an unusual move, just after the first human kill, the animal was declared a man-eater, which according to wildlife experts, was a “hasty” decision largely on account of the failure of departmental trackers and tranquilizing experts to catch the tiger.
Departmental officials continue to give out the same lame excuses with which they launched their “shoot down” mission Dec 23.
Asked why the department’s shooters had failed to make any headway, Suman said there was little they could do as the thick lantana bushes provide the animal a very safe cover.
But none of the officials has a convincing explanation on their failure to trap the feline when it remained localized in a relatively small 70 to 80 acre spread for nearly five days in the vicinity of the state capital last month.
“Only on one particular day it came out in the open and we tried to tranquilize the animal, but the plastic tranquilizer bullets got deflected due to the obstructing bushes and so we missed it,” said Ajit Narain Singh, a tranquilizer expert.
According to Singh, the tiger was not an easy catch because its behaviour was unlike normal big cats - perhaps because it is still just about two to three years old, “therefore it does not have the usual defined habits of the animal”.
“Unlike a normal tiger, this one has not attacked a single bait that was tied as a trap. It is really strange for a tiger on the run not to get lured by a goat, left entirely for it on a platter. Either it is too smart or has begun to prefer human flesh,” Singh said.
Yet Singh has not given up. “I am sure we will be able to get it soon. I know it is very unfortunate that we have to gun down this elegant big cat, but then what else can we do to ensure the safety of villagers - four of whom have been devoured so far?”
Wildlife experts however allege that killing the tiger is now being seen as the only way to keep the official shortcomings under wraps.
“It was lack of expertise of the officials that has forced the poor tiger to turn to killing humans. And now that they have the licence to kill the animal, a few trigger-happy officials will proclaim themselves as saviours of the human race - it is a matter of shame,” remarked Kaushlendra Singh, member of the Uttaranchal State Wildlife Board.
“I am strongly of the view that a probe must be instituted to fix the responsibility of those who are responsible for turning a two-year-old cub into a man-eater,” he stressed.