Tiger’s fate hangs by a thread


Faizabad (Uttar Pradesh): With the toll on humans by the ‘stray’ tiger in Uttar Pradesh reaching four, the fate of the predator appears to be in jeopardy. Even as efforts at capturing it alive continue, teams have also been dispatched to eliminate the tiger that has had the residents of Faizabad terrorised for over two months.

Following determined but unsuccessful attempts at tranquilisation and capture and after its third human kill on January 10, the UP Forest Department finally declared the tiger a man-eater.

A member of the Uttar Pradesh Forest Department said, “The Forest Department had to take the difficult decision to declare the tiger a man-eater, as it has already killed three people and injured two others. People’s safety is in question here.” The tiger took its fourth and the latest human victim on Wednesday night, increasing the urgency of its capture. This incident occurred in forested areas near Chowbay ka Purba village in Kumarganj range.

Meanwhile, since January 8, the Forest Department, assisted by a team from Wildlife Trust of India – International Fund for Animal Welfare (WTI-IFAW) has also been placing baits and cage-traps to capture the predator. The WTI-IFAW team reached the field on January 8 at the request of the UP Forest Department.

“First sighted near Pilibhit forest on November 13 last year, the tiger had been moving downstream along the Gomati River. The tiger currently resides in Rudauli and Kumarganj ranges in Faizabad”, says Dr Anil Kumar Singh, Coordinator, WTI, who is in the field along with experienced WTI team-members. field biologist Samir Kumar Sinha and Dr Anjan Talukdar, wildlife veterinarian trained in tranquilisation.

The attempts at tranquilisation so far have not borne results, mainly because of the terrain and fog conditions. Additionally, the tiger has shown certain behavioural anomalies, which have led experts to believe that it is a sub-adult, exploring possibilities to establish its territory.

“Before we began our operation, the tiger was wandering in a village forest comprising thickets and deep ravines. The undulating and thorny terrain cut through by ravines was not conducive for combing operations using elephants,” Dr NVK Ashraf, Director, WTI, said adding that planned tranquilisation was almost not an option then. “Only chance encounters could have led to chemical capture.”

Explaining that tranquilisation requires injecting drugs at the right place, Dr Ashraf added, “This tiger does not freeze upon seeing the elephants of the tracking team. A member of the UP Forest Department team on the ground had mentioned that it crouches and sneaks away not presenting an opportunity for shooting a dart. Tranquilising such animals is wrought with risks; a shot at the wrong places could result in death of the animal.”

There was hope for the tiger, but the fourth human kill in quick succession has tipped the scales against it, according to Dr Anil Kumar Singh.

“The equation has changed now. Understandably, people’s frustration and agitation is becoming more intense. We could not carry out our operation yesterday, but hope to continue today. Goats are being provided for the tiger to prey on, to ensure that the tiger doesn’t stray into human settlements for food. We are using carcasses of its animal kills as baits. It approached one bait laden trap-cage on Wednesday night, but unfortunately did not enter it. If possible, we will try and put out more trap-cages today,” he said.