The Tamil Nadu Forest Department staff has been combing the Gudalure-Masinagudi forest areas for more than two weeks, with assistance from their counterparts from Kerala, Karnataka, in search of a tiger that reportedly killed 12 cattle and four people in nearby villages.
Shekar Kumar Neeraj, Tamil Nadu’s Chief wildlife Warden, is leading the operation. He has 2 kumki elephants (Udayan and Srinivas) and 3 sniffer dogs (Karnataka). The search has been unsuccessful for 18 days, however, as of Tuesday.
The tiger appears to have sought shelter in deep forests after heavy rains.
The Chief Wildlife Warden ordered the killing of the tiger after the combing failed to produce any results. People for Cattle in India, an animal rights group, sued the Madras High Court claiming that killing the Tigers was against the guidelines of the National Tiger Conservation Authority. The court ordered the Forest Department to capture the Tiger instead and not to kill it.
Balamurugan 34, who is a farmer living near Gudalure’s forest area, said to IANS that he could “vouch that the Tiger has killed four people and is very dangerous.” The tiger should have been killed, but the Madras High Court ordered that it not be killed. We expect the Forest Department to immediately capture it. The Forest Department could call off the search if it fails to find the animal for at least a few days and place vigil around the area.
Balamurugan stated that if the search fails, the tiger would attack cattle and humans within three to four days. It cannot hunt in the forest so will have to rely on villages for its easy prey. D. Venkatesh (Director Mudumalai Tiger reserve) said to IANS: “The tiger appears to be between 12-14 years old and may have sustained injuries in a territorial fight or during hunt.” The tiger has killed cattle. We are continuing our search and will trap it in the next few days. The Sigur plateau’s increased tiger population is believed to be one reason the tiger has entered human areas. Wildlife conservationists agree. As tigers age, younger males replace older ones and are forced into habitats that have a lower prey base.
Officials from the forest stated that the tiger appears to be intelligent, as it was not spotted in a camera during intense searches. However, other tigers were captured in the camera recordings.