Two lightweight pilot-less aircraft, fitted with cameras, have been pressed into service to locate the man-eater tigress which has killed 10 persons in past about two months in the vicinity of Jim Corbett national park.
The aircrafts, hired from an Allahabad-based company, will capture aerial pictures from different angles to locate the tigress so that it could either be eliminated or tranquilised. The aircrafts were sent up many times in the past two days to capture pictures of the jungle and possible hideouts of the tigress.
“ Each aircraft has five cameras which capture pictures of the area from different angles that may help in locating big cats and their movement,” said divisional forest officer of Bijnor Vijay Kumar. “The technology and procedure is being used for the first time in the country,” he said.
The exercise to locate the man eater tigress has given relief to forest officials and staff who have been facing the wrath of locals since the first kill on December 26. On the other hand, a few foresters who refused to be quoted said use of aircraft would not t help in locating a man eater, elaborating that traditional methods of identifying and eliminating her would be more effective.
Experts also raised questions over identifying a man eater through pictures among other tigers. “ Use of aircraft can provide us input about presence and movement of tigers”, said a forest official involved in the exercise.
Nawab Shafat Ali Khan, who killed the man eater tigress of Faizabad in 2009, told HT over phone from Hyderabad, “Chasing a man eater starts a mind game between animal and hunter. So one should have ability to understand the behaviour of the animal that comes only through experience and not technology.”. Khan is the only recognised hunter of man eaters who has so far killed over a dozen man eater big cats, leopards and rogue elephants.
The state government also invited him to kill the tigress and using his skills and experience Nawab reached very close to the animal after several days’ chase in the last week of January. But in a changed stance, the forest department stopped cooperating and he was reportedly compelled to go back. “ I am still ready to take up the task if they ( forest officials) assure me of their cooperation,” said Nawab.
Forest officials too admit that four other hunters who had been given the task to eliminate the tigress had no experience of killing a man-eater. “ Killing a leopard and a man-eater tiger requires different kind of skills because both animals have different behaviour and act differently,” explained Nawab who believes that the traditional method of eliminating a man-eater is still effective.