19 days down, the Tiger walks free

Villagers continue to live under fear of big cat

 Elephant Abhimanyu resting after his hectic schedule to trap the tiger. DH Photo

Fearing the big cat the local residents have kept themselves indoors. The daily wage workers have not set out to work in the plantations for about 15 days now fearing an attack from the Tiger, which is said to be hiding either in the coffee plantation or in the forest.

Beera, a resident of Hudikeri says that his family is suffering because they have not been able to go to the plantations to work and earn income.

It is not just Beera and family who are in this plight. Over hundred families living in Kanur,
Kothur, Konangeri, Hudikere and nearby villages, who have been left in dire straits in Virajpet taluk.

Despite all the efforts to capture the Tiger, which has been hunting its easy preys- the cattle, the forest officials have not been able to win over the intelligent big cat.

Unfortunately the villagers are panic-stricken to the extent that they have decided not to
go out of their homes till the Forest officials capture the Tiger.

There are several families living on agriculture and hence the number of livestock is quite high in these villages. The Tiger, which had come to these villages, had now learnt that it can pacify its hunger hunting on the cattle, which are easily available in the cowsheds.

With the Tiger targeting the cattle, the villagers have no option but to stay awake and guard the cattle.

As many as 22 cattle and two sheep have been killed by the Tiger over the last 19 days.
Nanjappa, a resident says, “The entire family stays awake to protect the cattle from becoming feast to the Tiger. We light fire in front of the cowshed and keep making noises by beating vessels or drums or by bursting crackers to fear the Tiger.”

He says that Tiger has been targeting only the cow and calves and has been sparing the buffaloes. So far it has not attacked human beings.

Tiger in stress

On the other hand the sources in the forest department say that the Tiger too must be in distress because it has come out of its natural habitat. “Its stress is obvious by the fact that it has not been eating its prey completely after hunting, over the last 19 days,” said the source.

Schools closed

The attendance of children in schools in Hudikere and nearby areas is rather minimal. It has been seen that only four to five students out of 48 students have been attending classes in Hudikeri lower primary school.

“Parents have been remaining indoors fearing the Tiger and hence they are not sending children to school. In one way their fear is justified,” says School teacher Dhanya.

Permitted to kill?

While the forest officials are trying their level best to capture the Tiger alive the local residents who have developed a sense of hatred towards the animal have been demanding the authorities to kill the Tiger on spotting it.

The local elected representatives have been arguing that any wild animal which threatens the lives of the people can be killed according to Wildlife Act Section 11 (A).

The forest officials are not agreeing to this as they say that the Wildlife Act does not permit gunning of animals which are on the verge of becoming extinct.

“Tiger is one of such wild animals and we need to protect it,” say the officials.

Three teams

After the strategy of using Tusker Abhimanyu to trap the Tiger failed, the forest officials have decided to go to the woods themselves searching for the Tiger. The officials who have traced and followed the footprints of the Tiger say that it has moved from Hudikeri to Bellur.

As many as 40 forest officials and inspectors are taking part in the operation.
As many as three teams have been formed by the department to track down the Tiger, informed Deputy Conservator of Forest Motappa.

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