Night combing launched to zero in on the elusive tiger

Hediyala tiger identified through camera trap images

November 26, 2023 08:55 pm | Updated November 27, 2023 03:06 pm IST - MYSURU

Combing operation using elephants and tribal people is under way at Bandipur since Friday after a woman was killed in the Hediyala range.

Combing operation using elephants and tribal people is under way at Bandipur since Friday after a woman was killed in the Hediyala range. | Photo Credit: SPECIAL ARRANGEMENT

The authorities have identified the tiger that killed a woman in the Hediyala range of the Bandipur National Park, based on the camera trap images after which night combing has also been launched.

A fresh cattle kill was also reported within 1 km from the spot where the woman was killed, raising hopes that the tiger is lurking nearby and can be captured soon.

Ratnamma of Balluruhundi in Nanjangud taluk of Mysuru district was killed in a tiger attack on Friday, following which combing operations were launched. Besides, the Forest Department staff installed 55 camera traps at vantage points. In all, 207 people are involved in the combing operations besides 100 members of the local tribal community.

The exercise yielded results with the tiger’s image captured by one of the camera traps late on Saturday and again on Sunday.

Ramesh Kumar, Director, Bandipur Tiger Reserve, said the tiger was also sighted on Sunday and was identified as the same tiger which was earlier photographed by the camera traps.

“There was also a report of a fresh kill but the tiger had not consumed it. The site of the fresh kill was close to Kalanamunte anti-poaching camp which is about 1 km from the spot where Ratnamma was killed. Hence it can be said with confidence that the same tiger is lurking around,” said Mr. Ramesh Kumar.

The combing operation, involving three elephants — Rohit, Parthasarathy, and Hiranya — and personnel from the Special Tiger Force, Leopard Task Force, Elephant Task Force, and forest guards, has been extended through the night as well, said Mr. Ramesh Kumar. “Once the camera trap images were obtained and pug marks sighted, four teams were set up and they were in the jungles throughout Saturday night till Sunday morning,” he added.

While there is no foot patrolling during night combing, the staff concerned move around in vehicles. Four vehicles are being put to use for night combing operations which will continue even on Sunday and the terrain is such that it allows for vehicular movement.

“The place where the killing took place and the combing is on has scrub jungles, the land is relatively flat and does not pose difficulty to drive through,” said Mr. Ramesh Kumar.

In addition to combing operations using elephants and vehicles, a thermal drone has also been deployed. This will provide for aerial monitoring of the tiger’s movement so as to ascertain its exact location without getting too close to it, lest the tiger gets disturbed and retreats deep into the jungle.

The local community is also being constantly updated of fresh cattle kill or sighting of pug marks so that they can be cautious.

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