Man-killing tiger in Pilibhit keeping forest dept on toes
TNN, Jul 31, 2010, 01.01am IST
LUCKNOW: Pilibhit forest division is in news again. Deoria range of the division is gripped with fear of a man-killing tiger. Though forest officials have not labelled it as a man-eater, yet. The stray big cat has killed and partially eaten five men, at different points of time, over a period of past three months.
The sub-adult tiger made its first killing on May 3. It struck again on June 7, killed and partially ate a 50-year-old man, Ved Prakash of Parewa Turraha village of Pilibhit. The body was lying about 1 km inside forest area. The right arm of the man was eaten by the big cat. On its third appearance on June 23, the tiger killed Bulaki Ram. On July 25, it killed Shyamlal and on July 27, it killed Jamuna Prasad.
Forest officials came into action after the fourth incident was reported on July 25. "We got eight web cameras installed in Deoria range," said V K Singh, DFO, Pilibhit. The camera was installed at 5.10pm and it was within 10 minutes that the first snap of the tiger was clicked by one of the cameras. "We got sure of tiger's presence in the area," said Singh.
The killing on July 25 took place in Deohana beat of the range and July 27 killing happened in Ghundchai beat of the range. There is an aerial distance of about 2 km between the two beats. However, when the tiger killed Jamuna Prasad on July 27, the incident was not clicked by the cameras. But cameras will continue to be in place.
Almost all the killings have taken place in the daytime because victims had gone to the forest area to either collect firewood or grass. Besides, monsoon is also the season for `katarua' mushroom in Pilibhit forests. Villagers collect the mushroom and sell them for Rs 70 to 80 per kg in markets. Bundles of grass, firewood and bags with mushrooms have been recovered from site of killings. Besides, the men have all been attacked while they were squatting on the ground and tiger mistook them to be quadrupeds.
As far as eating men is concerned, tiger has not eaten the men immediately after killing them. Though it has partially eaten all the bodies, it has eaten them a day after the killing. "When men had gone to search Jamuna Prasad in the morning, they had seen tiger eating the man's leg," said Singh. The approaching men, however, had scared the tiger away.
It is a case of man intruding into tiger's territory as all bodies were found lying deep inside the forest. Hence, it does not make any sense in branding the big cat a man-eater, said DFO. However, this has not lessened the seriousness of the incident for the forest department.
The forest department has created three teams headed by range officers to educate and inform villagers about the presence of tiger in the locality. Each team has 9 to 12 members. The teams will hold meetings with villagers and educate them about taking precautions. "We also have decided to get strict," said Singh.
The people who are found entering the prohibited area of forest will be detained for trespassing. Though, they will be allowed to go after initial warning. On second occasion, they will be charged a fine of Rs 250 and on third occasion, they will be arrested, produced in court and sent to jail for 14 days. This effort will continue for a month-long period.
Apart from this, informative posters have been put up at PHCs and primary schools. Deoria range spreads across 712 sq km and has 36 villages on its periphery. All the villages are under watch.