Close on the heels of the order to shoot the man-eating tiger in H.D. Kote, wildlife experts have unequivocally called for a “quick resolution” to the problem, before the situation is aggravated any further.
The man-eater has accounted for three deaths in villages near Bandipur National Park in the last few days. In addition, a forest watcher is suspected to have been killed by a different tiger in the Nagarahole National Park area on the Kodagu side of the Nagarahole National Park. The latest victim was identified as Basappa (70), who was killed by a tiger close to Chikkabargi forests in H.D. Kote.
“This is one of the rarest cases of attacks on humans,” says Praveen Bhargav, a strategic conservation and research expert from Wildlife First. “This could be an old tiger which was pushed out of its home range,” he felt.
“The objective of conservation is to save the species as a whole; but conflict-bound animals must be removed,” he added. However, it is possible that is a young tiger, which has lost a territorial fight. He said that the pattern of the three deaths pointed towards a single big cat.
Mr. Bhargav avers that tiger density in the Bandipur and Nagarahole Parks was “very high”, and added that there were people in the Forest Department who could handle things well. One male adult tiger could overlap three female home ranges in India. However, Mr. Bhargav cautions the authorities to find the right tiger, stating it is a small risk.
The Bandipur and the Nagarahole attacks are unconnected. As per an estimate, the Bandipur, Nagarahole, Wayanad and Mudumalai wildlife areas comprised a population of over 300 tigers, he said. Mr. Bhargav also commented on the news appearing in a section of the media, that a particular tiger released into the wild was responsible for this havoc, as being false.
K.M. Chinnappa, former Range Forest Officer and wildlife expert, who was known for his intrepid and aggressive animal conservation practices, said the Forest Department could have done better by involving experts available within the department. “We expected this problem to be aggravated after the first killing,” he told The Hindu . Mr. Chinnappa supports the decision to eliminate the tiger, since it had turned man-eater.
“How could several shots fired at the animal by the tracking team in the last couple of days miss?” he wanted to know. However, there is no need for sharpshooters to be brought in from outside the department. The initial operation of the Forest Department was indeed flawed as it could have made use of latest technologies to deal with the crisis. The department should now ensure that people do not turn violent, Mr. Chinnappa, who has offered his expertise for the problem, added.
Wildlife activist and photographer, Krupakar, admits that it is not an easy task for the Forest Department to track the right tiger, since the Bandipur wildlife areas encompassed over 1,200 sq. km area. Besides, the largest of the cat species is nocturnal and stealthily.