Features Saturday, March 21, 2015 - 05:30
Siddhartha Mishra |The News Minute| November 28, 2014| 05.53 pm IST On November 15, he killed a woman in Pandaravalli village, Chikkamagaluru. Swift action was taken; he was apprehended. From there he was taken to the Bhimgad Wildlife Sanctuary, Belagavi… 416 kilometers away.But by then people knew of him, as papers and channels called him the “man-eater tiger”. Angry villagers in Khanapur demanded that the “man-eater” be taken away as soon as he was released into the forests. More than a week later, protests are still on in, the villagers want the “dangerous” “man-eater” taken away. “It is a three year old male tiger who is at a stage of dispersion which means he is away from his mother and looking for his territory”, says Vinay Lutra, the Principal Chief Conservator of Forests and Chief Wildlife Warden, to the Newsminute. “He’s not a man-eater as reported by the media, conflicts arise when the tiger is looking for new territory and attacks due to fear”, he further explains. Since the day he was transported to the sanctuary the villagers had been complaining of the “man-eater” in the vicinity. This was even after forest officials had radio-collared him and had been monitoring him if he ventured close to human habitat.    Tigers are generally known to turn into man-eaters when they can’t function to the best of their capabilities when it comes to hunting prey. So if they’re injured and if a human being is then killed by it, it finds humans as easy prey and kind of adds us to their menu.  Thus, rebutting the “man-eater” adjective, Lutra says, “He is in perfect health with no injuries to him and he’s been in Bhimgad for 10 days now”. “Do you think its stomach is empty?” he asks. “People get afraid because of such reports in the media”, he further adds. The animal was described by the Kannada newspapers as “nara-hantaka” or a “man-killer” and as a man-eater tiger by many English papers in spite of an article in the Hindu that carried a ‘Report with care’ message from Lutra regarding the issue. It’s understandable for the fear of God to take over us when confronted with the largest cat species. Honey-collectors in forests are even known to have masks with their faces on the back of their head to dissuade a man-eater. Jim Corbett entered our lexicon through hunting man-eating tigers and with the felines killing reportedly over 85,000 people in India ever year, they are feared. Of the reported 1,700 tigers that prowl our land, being labeled a man-eater has far reaching consequences with people killing the animal on sight regarding them to be a threat. For the past two weeks the villagers have continually been protesting against his presence. At least in this case, a life has been spared, but with villagers consistently protesting, the department is under tremendous pressure to take the tiger out of the sanctuary.