Jeevan Chinnappa

Madikeri: Are tigers killing cattle in Srimangala, West Nemmale, T. Shettigeri, Kurchi, Biruga villages and the surrounding areas in Virajpet taluk of Kodagu? More than 18 head of cattle have been killed by “tigers” since December 24 last. It has not only created panic but confusion as to which animal had killed them.

Residents of these villages maintain that it is the tiger that had accounted for all killings. Some even claim to have sighted the animals. “There are more than one tiger on the prowl,” says Ravi Subbaiah, a resident of Srimangala. Only two head of cattle had survived the “tiger attacks” while 16 have been killed so far since December, he said. The animals were entering the sheds in the nights and killing them. However, the animal that killed the cows was not dragging the carcasses away to hide it or eating them full for reasons not known, he said.

Deputy Conservator of Forests, Virajpet Division, S.D. Pathak, struck a different note saying the animals that were attacking the cattle could be leopards. A package of measures had been suggested to the Conservator of Forests, Kodagu Circle, and an order was being awaited to initiate further action.

“I do not think it is a tiger; the movement patterns suggest it could be a leopard,” he said. When he was told that people had sighted tigers, which had killed the cattle, he said, “it is their opinion.” Trapping the killer animal and re-locating it would be resorted to once permission to do so was granted, Mr. Pathak said. Whether it is a tiger or a leopard, cattle are being killed. People who have lost cattle in the attacks and also people from affected villages have organised road blocks by placing the carcasses on the roads to protest against the apathy of the Forest Department, which they accuse of failing to initiate immediate action to stop cattle killings. Katti Mandaiah of the Sarvajanika Hitarakshana Samiti says labourers were refusing to attend to coffee picking works in his plantation as they were apprehensive of “tiger attacks”. The killer animals could easily target human beings, he said. A number of students go to schools in the towns from villages covering some distance where it was not far from the forests. “Tiger attacks” could assume dangerous proportions, he fears.