The tiger which killed two persons in the past week near Nagarahole National Park was captured by forest department officials on Friday afternoon at Aanemala, a dense forest area in the DB Kuppe range of the national park.
The tiger was spotted and tranquilized in a tense operation which began at 6 am and ended at around 1:30 pm on Thursday. "Killing the tiger was the last resort in case any of our lives were in danger. We managed to capture the tiger and we will observe its condition before taking any further action," confirmed M Narayanswamy, Conservator of Forests and Director of Nagarahole National Park.
The male tiger is aged 5 years old and was injured in its hind leg. It will now be sent to a rehabilitation centre in Koorgalli on the outskirts of Mysuru where it will be monitored. "Due to the injury, it could not hunt and was attacking humans, which are soft targets for the tiger. The animal usually does not attack humans," says Narayanswamy.
There are around 100 tigers in the Nagarahole forest area with a tiger at every 4-5 square kilometres. Residents of the villages along the forest areas continued to agitate even after the tiger was captured. "The people here are asking us to show the captured tiger but we have followed NTCA guidelines in closing off the area in which the tiger was spotted and captured it," added Narayanswamy.
The capture brings an end to a search operation that involved elephants began on Monday after the tiger attacked a man in Hullumutlu village. The tiger, however, evaded camera traps set up by forest officials before it attacked another man in Thimanna Hosahalli, around 3 km away from Hullumutlu, on Thursday.
The news of the second attack spread further panic among the communities living along the forest areas prompting forest officials to write to the National Tiger Conservatory Authority (NTCA) asking for permission to kill the tiger. The NTCA is a statutory body under the Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change working for the conservation of tigers.
The decision, however, enraged wildlife activists who argued that the tiger was injured and should only be killed as a last resort. Eventually, the tiger was captured and not killed.
However, the latest man-animal conflict in Nagarahole has sparked a debate about rehabilitating people settled in the core forest areas. "There are more than 80 people residing in the core forest areas and they should be resettled elsewhere. The tribal people are ready to move but people who are not tribals are often unwilling to leave their homes. If people do not move away from the core forest areas, this conflict will persist," warned Kantharaju, a retired forest official who worked in Nagarahole.