Nearly a month has passed since the Forest Department in Karnataka’s Kodagu district began its attempt to capture or shoot down a ‘maneater’ tiger, but on Friday, officials claimed that the same tiger had been found dead. The tiger is thought to have killed three persons from February 20 onwards, and preyed on more than a dozen cattle.
Speaking to TNM, Vijaykumar Gogi, senior Indian Forest Service (IFS) officer and Principal Chief Conservator of Forests (PCCF) Wildlife, said the same tiger has been found dead but the cause of death is yet to be established. “The tiger was found dead by our officials inside the forest area. After that, we verified the patterns of the stripe and it matches with the photos that we have captured while trying to trace the animal. So we conclude that this is the same animal.”
He added the cause of the death will be investigated.
However, a section of residents of Ponnampet taluk who have been living in fear of the tiger and have held protests over alleged inaction by the Forest Department, remain unconvinced.
Manu Somaiah, president of the Karnataka Rajya Raitha Sangha in the district who led protests against the authorities, said the decomposing body of the tiger was found in a trench on the edge of the forest, made to stop elephants from crossing it.
“In the past too, because of public pressure, they captured a tiger and said it was the maneater. But later it was found that it was a female tiger and the maneater was a male," he claimed.
He added, "They haven't conducted a forensic examination on the dead tiger. Now how do we believe that that was the maneater?"
TNM had reported how in the first tragedy, on February 20, a 16-year-old boy was fetching some firewood at night when he was killed by the tiger. The next day, a 60-year-old coffee estate plantation worker was killed when she stepped out to answer nature’s call. These two deaths had occurred within a two-kilometre radius. Later on March 8, a 12-year-old boy was mauled to death by a tiger in the vicinity.
Wildlife activists suggest that recurrence of these events are increasing day by day due to degradation of habitat of wild animals, increased encroachment of forests and cutting off of the migration path of wild animals due to road and rail projects.
A Male Tiger (Nagarahole 13_U285) which was responsible for human death in T.Shettigeri, Kumatoor, Belur villages of Srimanagala hobli, Ponnampet Range, Virajpet Division of Kodagu district is found dead in a place called Lakkunda. pic.twitter.com/vi9nOXHsNi— Karnataka Forest Department (@aranya_kfd) March 19, 2021