A fear psychosis has gripped the local residents in Munnar and Devikulam areas almost for a month after two cows, three lambs and a number of dogs were killed allegedly in tiger attacks, which the people say that it could also pose a threat to the humans.

On Thursday, there were rumours spreading in the estate areas that people had sighted the alleged attacker in the Periyavare areas and “the eyewitnesses', spread it that they had seen the big cat eating a deer near the Mulampara area. With the rumours spreading, the Forest Department has formed a special team to trace the animal and night patrolling was also launched.

The ‘tiger' allegedly attacked three lambs near the Survey Superintendent office in Munnar and the areas allegedly intruded into by it included Old Munnar, Munnar and Devikulam areas. Though, the Forest Departments had confirmed the pug marks found near the carcases of the three lambs were that of the tiger, it has not been sighted so far, said sources in the Forest Department. Munnar Wildlife Warden K.G. Samuel said that most of the instances of attack by the alleged intruder are from Devikulam area. Residents in the estates had been advised to keep the light on during night time as the tiger is known for attacking its prey in darkness. Tigers do not chase its prey and over power it but hide and attack is its way of killing the prey. Moreover, the local people were also told to clear up bushes near the residential areas as it could be used by the animal to unleash sudden attack after hiding.

He said that two factors are that either the tiger could be an old one moved out of the core forest in search of soft targets or the increased number of stray dogs prompted it to stay on in the outer forest areas. Mr Samuel said that two cages had been placed to trap the animal and the Forest Department has evolved a scheme to contain the number of stray dogs with the support from the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA). “It is true that there is a sudden increase in the number of stray dogs especially in Munnar town limits,'' he said. They wander in night time especially on roads, he said.

A wildlife expert told The Hindu that it is known that the animal do not eat its prey at once and it is the habit of the big cat to eat the body of the prey a day after it was killed as to loosen the flesh from the bones. The people usually take away the carcass of the prey and there is chance that the animal coming to the spot in search of the prey. It stays on seeking the prey, he said adding that once it tasted the flesh of the stray dogs, it will search for more ones as the salty taste of the flesh makes it attracted to cattle stock too.

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