Cornered big cat jumps at officials, shot dead on a coffee plantation

The tiger fought till the end and met with a bloody end. Even after giving sleepless nights to people living on the fringes of the Wayanad Wildlife Sanctuary for three weeks, killing their cattle and triggering agitations, the big cat was in no mood to give up till forest officials shot it dead on a coffee plantation near Moolamkavu on Sunday morning.

O.P. Kaler, Chief Conservator of Forests (Wildlife), Palakkad, who had been leading the “hunt” for the tiger, said a mob foiled attempts to save its life as the animal turned violent and jumped at the team shooting the tranquilliser darts.

V. Gopinathan, Chief Wildlife Warden of Kerala, ordered the “hunt” on November 21 after mass protests erupted as the tiger had been carrying away domestic animals in human habitations near Sulthan Bathery, Naikkatty and Muthanga. Nearly 15 animals turned its prey.

“We had intensified the operations on Saturday evening after a report that the animal had entered a human habitation in the Moolamkavu area,” S. Sreekumar, Warden of the sanctuary, told The Hindu. The tiger attacked a cow around 1 a.m. and a goat early on Sunday.

Arun Zachariah, forest veterinary surgeon, said that at 7.30 a.m. the officials tracked the tiger and around 8 a.m., the veterinary surgeons shot the first tranquilliser (ketamine) dart. The dart hit the target and the tiger fled to the plantation. But it turned violent after an uncontrollable mob gathered. The team applied the second dart in a short span of time.

“While the second dart was applied, the tiger jumped to attack the officials and it was shot dead as a last resort,” Mr. Sreekumar said.

Mr. Kaler told presspersons that the officials had tried their best to save the life of the tiger, but the rush of people forced them to kill it. The tiger would have attacked the people.

The carcass will be preserved in the Parambikulam Tiger Reserve in Palakkad district after autopsy at the forest veterinary lab in Sulthan Bathery. Representatives of the National Tiger Conservation Authority, the Principal Chief Conservator of Forests and non-governmental organisations will be present.

The Forest Department had constituted a special task force to capture the animal with the assistance of a 10-member Special Tiger Protection Force and two Kumki (trained) elephants from the Bandipur Tiger Reserve in Karnataka. A huge crowd reached the spot to get a glimpse of the tiger.

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