While teams from the Uttar Pradesh forest department and the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) are tracking the rogue tiger(s) in Lakhimpur Kheri that has reportedly killed seven persons in six months, the process of declaring the big cat as a man-eater is quite technical.
Usually, it is the state’s chief wildlife conservator who declares a tiger as man-eater. The declaration has to be backed by evidence that the tiger in question ambushed and killed humans not once but several times.
Former principal chief conservator of forest (PCCF) RL Singh says, “Even if it is declared a man-eater, the first preference is to tranquilise the tiger and capture it. Such animals can be kept in the zoo. When attempts to tranquilise it fail, only then is the animal killed.”
Preference is given to the field staff for the task of tranquilising or hunting down a man-eater tiger. The UP forest department has an expert team for this.
When this team fails to tranquilise and cage the tiger, expert hunters are called in. These are usually retired officials of the forest department who have vast experience in dealing with such cases while in service.
“The last resort will be to seek help from forest departments of other states or the Centre. Any random individual or hunter cannot be allowed to kill a tiger,” said Singh.
More importantly, the Wildlife Protection Act does not allow a tiger to be declared as man-eater even if more than one human is killed inside the reserve forest area. Because in such cases, the human is said to be at fault for intruding into areas reserved for the tiger to roam free.