The tiger which had mauled a tribal to death in Maddur range of Bandipur forests on December 27th 2013 was captured and tranquilized after it was lured to bait and walked into a cage on Thursday.
With this the people of Maddur Colony in Gundlupet taluk of Chamarajanagar district who were living on the edge since the death of Javaraiah who was mauled by the tiger inside the forests, have breathed a sigh of relief.
For the forest department the success in trapping the elusive tiger comes as a major respite as intense combing since almost a week had not yielded any results but added to confusion making the task all the more difficult. Reason: the tribal was mauled to death inside the forests and when the authorities installed about 15 camera traps to identify the cat, they gathered images of as many as three different tigers in the same area and identifying the right one as the killer was a challenging task.
The National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA) officials who had visited Bandipur on Tuesday and made it clear, that tiger could be captured and shifted only if it was found to be injured. In the event a healthy tiger were to be captured, it had to be left free.
But Conservator of Forests Mr. H.C. Kantharaju, who is also the Director of Bandipur Tiger Reserve, told The Hindu that the intense exercise and camera trap results yielded dividend and they are confident that the right tiger has been trapped in view of its injuries.
“The tiger stripes and other identification matched with the images we had secured on the camera on the second day after the incident and there were injuries on its right paw and fore leg. Its canine was broken and there was no way a tiger with broken canine can hunt and survive in a jungle”, said Mr. Kantharaju.
Unlike at Chikkabaragi in H.D.Kote where the forest department zeroed in on the tiger and had to fire a dart using a tranquilizer gun, the tiger at Maddur walked into bait kept inside a trap cage by way of a dead calf. The tiger walked into it in the early hours of Thursday and was trapped shut. However, getting close to the tiger and darting it was a challenge in view of its ferocity.
“There was a fear that the tiger could break itself free as it was thrashing around violently. Hence the elephants used for combing operations were taken close to the cage and the veterinarian Dr. Sannath of Bannerghatta National Park, who was atop one of the elephant, fired a dart from close quarter to find the mark and the tranquilizer had its effect”, said Mr. Kantharaju.
As the news spread, the local residents, as at Chikkabaragi created a ruckus and wanted the authorities to display the tiger but a few village elders and senior leaders were taken inside the forests to satisfy them that the tiger had indeed been trapped after which it was taken away to Bannerghatta in Bangalore.
Veterinarian Dr. Nagaraj and other staff from the Mysore zoo accompanied the team.
Meanwhile, the forest department officials have warned the people of Maddur Colony against venturing towards the forests as there are two more tigers in the area. “We have released compensation of Rs.5 lakh on humanitarian grounds to Javaraiah’s family though the incident took place inside the forests which means the victim was a trespasser and had courted danger. But in future no compensation will be paid in such cases where attack takes places inside the forests”, said a senior official.
The forest department also found a few machetes and bundles of bamboo which were cut and ready for transportation at the place where Javaraiah was found dead. “We have ample proof that he had not come for cattle grazing - which is banned - but for bamboo felling and there was a case pending against him”, the official added.
There have been as many as four human deaths due to tiger attack in Bandipur Tiger Reserve during November-December 2013 and three deaths were attributed to a tiger on the prowl in H.D.Kote taluk of Mysore district. It was subsequently captured and was found to be injured with porcupine quills and is now at the Mysore zoo. In addition to these, a forest guard was mauled to death in the neighbouring Nagarahole National Park during the same period.