Tribal mauled inside BRT reserve; tiger attack suspected

The dismembered remains of a Soliga tribal, who had gone to collect minor forest produce, was found near Jenubare Hill at the K Gudi Forest range of Biligiri Ranganathaswamy Temple (BRT) Tiger Reserve in Chamarajanagar district on Wednesday.

The deceased is Jadegowda, aged about 55 years. Jadegowda went into the forest on Monday but did not return, prompting his family members to lodge a police complaint. On Wednesday, staff of the Forest Department and tribals conducted a search operation during which the head and a portion of the leg was recovered from different locations inside the core zone of K Gudi Forest range.

According to Dileep Kumar Das, Chief Conservator of Forests, Chamarajanagar Circle, the tribals who took part in the operation claimed to have found the pug marks of a tiger near the dismembered remains. 

Following heavy rains on Tuesday night, the pug marks inside the reserve have been washed away, leaving the department uncertain about the animal behind the attack. 

The department officials also suspected a tiger attack, but added that Jadegowda could have been attacked by other carnivores like leopards while his remains could have been consumed by scavengers like boars and wild dogs.

“The remains were found almost three kilometers inside the forest. The tribal had gone inside for the collection of honey and tree moss,” he said.

The remains were taken to the district hospital in Chamarajanagar for autopsy at 5 pm. However, autopsy was not conducted till late night as the in-charge doctor was away.

Das said the department was exploring options to compensate the Soliga family despite the rules stipulating that compensation will not be awarded to deaths inside protected forests, as entering such areas is considered as trespassing.

“Since the tribal community was given individual title deeds under Tribal Rights Act, allowing them to collect forest produce, compensation will most probably be disbursed to his family,” he added.

This is the fifth such incident where a person has been mauled by a carnivore near or inside the reserve in the region since late November 2013. Two tigers had mauled four persons near Bandipur Tiger Reserve in November and December, 2013. Both the tigers were captured.

However, since the latest incident occurred inside the core zone of the reserve, it is unlikely that the tiger will be captured, Forest Department sources said.

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