The Bandipur tiger, which killed three persons in a week in H.D. Kote taluk of Mysore district, was tranquilised and captured by the Forest Department officials at Chikkabargi forests on Thursday, bringing relief to people living on the fringes of the forests.
The male tiger, aged about 10, looked a little weak, its teeth broken, while a porcupine quill had pierced through its mouth making it difficult for it to chew or eat.
The combing operation was launched at around 7.30 a.m. and the officials were hopeful of tracking down the tiger as they had spotted its pug marks near the very place where the body of Basappa, who was killed by the animal, was found on Tuesday.
Basavaraju, a farmer was killed near Nidadihaadi on November 27; Cheluva, a tribal man was killed near Seegevadihaadi on November 29, while Basappa met a gory end on December 3. There was another death on November 30 when a forest guard Suresh was killed in the adjoining Nagarahole national park but the attack has been attributed to a different tiger.
It was suspected that the tiger was preying on human beings due to its inability to hunt because of old age or injury.
H.C. Kantharaj, Director, Bandipur Tiger Reserve, who confirmed that the animal was tranquilised and caught early in the day, told The Hindu that it was the same animal which had killed three persons during the week
“We had observed its behavioural pattern during the combing operations at Seegevadihaadi and the animal never ventured beyond 500 metres to more than a km deep into the jungles from the boundary nor would it come out more than 100 metres from the demarcation line,” he said.
“Hence, we suspected that it might have been ejected out of its territory by a dominant male in a territorial fight or it was an aged tiger unable to hunt and was confining itself to the forest boundary line where stray animals were an easy pick. But unfortunately it also preyed on human beings. Then, we focussed our operations along the periphery of the forests and the demarcation line,” Mr. Kantharaj said.
The theory that the tiger could be aged or injured was corroborated when it was tranquilised and the veterinarians confirmed that its teeth had broken and that a porcupine quill in its mouth had badly injured it. The tiger could have died of starvation in a few days, according to Mr. Kantharaj.
Though the State government on Wednesday issued an order to shoot down the animal, sources in the Forest Department said that it would be a “last resort as an act of self-defence only” and their first priority was to take the animal alive as they did not want to risk shooting a wrong animal in the tiger reserve.
Though the operation to trap the Bandipur tiger has been successful, the situation was tense at Chikkabargi village. The tiger was put in a cage and there were plans to shift it to the Mysore zoo for the veterinarians to treat and study the animal. However, people in Chikkabargi village surrounded the Forest Department staff and insisted that they be shown the caged tiger.
The tiger was brought to the Forest Department office that had been vandalised two days ago following Basappa’s killing.
Tempers ran high and a section of the crowd called for “revenge” and insisted that the tiger be doused with petrol and set ablaze. However, the authorities, with the help of the KSRP men, soothed the frayed nerves of the mob and moved the animal to Mysore through the Moolehole forests.