Friday, January 28, 2011

Was the wrong tiger killed in Kumaon?

Neha Shukla, TNN, Jan 29, 2011, 07.22am IST

LUCKNOW: A day after Uttarakhand forest officials shot a tiger claiming it had killed six people in and around Kumaon's Corbett Reserve, doubts are being raised if the big cat felled on Thursday was a man-eater.

The Corbett authorities who had earlier claimed that the man-eater was a tigress, on Friday said the feline shot by Ramnagar forest officials was a "rare specimen with female characterstics". With deformity in both its hind claws, the pug marks of the tiger made them look like that of a tigress. "Whatever doubts have arisen, could be because of this assumption of ours," said Corbett park warden U C Tiwari on Friday adding, "it was a tiger with female characteristics."

The contention was outrightly rejected by wildlife experts. "The pug mark impressions are very distinct and are impressions of paws and not claws," said former director of Dudhwa G C Mishra. He added that this leaves little chance of a goof up. "We are yet to come across a tiger with "female characteristics," he said.

"If they have killed a wrong tiger and a man-eater is still at large, killings (of men) will take place in some 15-20 days," he warned.

Former director, Project Tiger, R L Singh said: "I agree that pug marks are misleading evidence, but I have never ever come across a tiger with any of its claws like that of a female. Though the cubs can have their claws look like that of a female, the Corbett tiger was an old one."

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