Friday, January 28, 2011

Human exposure made man-eater fearless

TNN, Jan 29, 2011, 04.42am IST

LUCKNOW: The man-eater in the Corbett national park had lost the fear for humans. According to officials, it was over-exposure to human population, which had probably made the tiger fearless.

This was evident from the ever reducing time gap between the killings. On November 12, Nanda Devi was attacked in daylight in Corbett, when she was returning to Sundarkhal village with two other women. The villagers recovered her partially eaten body later.

The second killing was made in Ramnagar forest division after more than a month on December 29. The woman Kalpha Mehra was mauled to death at Chukam village near the eastern boundary of the Corbett national park, when she had gone to collect fodder from the forest. The body was partially eaten by the tiger. The third killing came less than a week after the second one.

In all, there has been six killings in Corbett and Ramnagar forest division. Four of them took place in January alone. Uttrakhand forest department claimed that it had shot down the man-eater on Thursday. The big cat was striking in Sunderkhal, Garjia and Dhikuli ranges of Corbett and Ramnagar. The people killed by the tiger had gone inside forest area. Officials claimed that biotic pressure on forest is increasing. "Sunderkhal has at least 342 families living," said one of the officers.

The officers also said that the tiger was perhaps not ill or suffering from deformity that could have made it a man-eater. There were evidences that the big cat was also killing its natural prey. "Though we can not say, if it was still killing wild animals after being shot at on January 11," said an officer. The officers had shot at it, when it came back to its prey in the late evening. "It was the sound of cracking bones and rupturing flesh that made us realise that the tiger was eating its prey," said an officer. Since it was dark, and though officers fired at the feline, it escaped. But the blood stains found at the place made officers believe that the big cat was injured.

The officers also shared that the tiger had gone elusive, the known trait of a man-eater. It had also grown clever and knew how to avoid being trapped. There had been occasions, when it had come close to a cage set up at the place, but was never caught.

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