Staff Correspondent

The tiger was sighted by a farmer in his grove

Search likely to end by Friday morning

TUMKUR: The search for the tiger, which was reportedly sighted in Tumkur district on Wednesday, continued on Thursday.

The tiger was sighted by a farmer in his grove at Hosahalli, near Kunigal town, in the district. Upendra Pratap Singh, Deputy Conservator of Forests, who returned here after visiting the area, said it was good news for his department that a tiger was sighted.

“We took it very seriously and mounted a search operation. But it is all in vain. We are, however, continuing the search,” he said adding that he cannot brush aside the sighting easily.

He said the farmer who reportedly sighted the tiger, was the only one to vouch for it. No one else had spotted it thereafter. There have been no incidents of attacks on animals. He said the area around Hosahalli had not witnessed rain in the last 15 days. Hence, no pugmarks could be collected.

“We are, however, zeroing on its movements by closely inspecting sandy patches, tankbeds and fields with grown-up crops to find clues. Mr. Singh said he expected the search to end by Friday morning.

B.V. Gundappa, president of the Wildlife Aware Nature Club, who is leading a team of wildlife experts to study the background of the sighting of a tiger, said: “We suspect that it might be a panther. The Ranganatha Swamy Hillock is 2 km away from Hosahalli. The hillock might have some panthers.”

Prof. Gundappa said: “We showed drawings of a panther and a tiger to the farmer (who sighted it). But, according to the farmer, it resembled both. Probably, he (the farmer) was frightened and did not take a clear look at it.”

He said the tiger; as well the one recently caught at Holalkere in Chitradurga District, might have strayed from the Devarayanadurga State Reserve Forests of Tumkur.

He said: “Tiger’s habitat is generally spread around 35 sq. km. The tiger travels more than 20 km in one night”.

Ameen Ahmed, wildlife expert, said sighting of tigers in Hosahalli and Holalkere have strengthened the argument that tigers were still surviving in the forest range along the Tumkur-Chitradurga border.

He said a tigress with two cubs was spotted in the Devarayandurga State Reserve Forests in Tumkur on February 20.

As early as in 1950, Kenneth Anderson recorded in his book, the presence of tigers in these forests. On August 23, 1996, Uday Veer Singh, then Deputy Conservator of Forests in Tumkur, sighted a fully grown tiger.

In September 2001, TVN Murthy of Nisarga, a greens’ group, saw a tiger in the Tumkur forests. Forest staff too confirmed to have seen the feline sitting on its prey (a cow) and feasting for several hours. Residents of Namadchilume had complained of losing their cows every now and then, Dr. Ahmed said.

In July 2006, Ganganna, Range Forest Officer, spotted a tiger crossing the Urdigere-Devarayanadurga main road, he added.