Wildlife activists are up in arms against the Uttarakhand forest department's decision to declare a tiger at the Jim Corbett National Park as a man-eater and issue instructions to capture or kill it.
On February 4, the tiger killed Bhagwati Devi, 50, a resident of Dhikuli village, when she entered the Sarpduli range of the park to collect firewood. The incident triggered protests from villagers and the authorities declared the tiger as a man-eater four days later.
Speaking to Hindustan Times, Belinda Wright, executive director of the Wildlife Protection Society of India (WPSI), strongly condemned the decision of the state forest department.
"It is obvious that tigers don't tolerate intrusion into their habitats. Moreover, before declaring the tiger as a man-eater, the authorities should have checked how many casualties had taken place. It is wrong to judge the animal a man-eater on the basis of just one casualty," she said.
She said the WPSI had contacted the National Tiger Conservation Authority and the Project Tiger authorities to stop the forest department from declaring the tiger as a man-eater or instructing its capture or killing.
Rajendra Aggarwal, state WPSI executive, said Uttarakhand could use other options like isolating the animal in a restricted area, to help avoid any further casualty.
When contacted, Uttarakhand principal chief conservator of forests, RBS Rawat, clarified, "According to the orders passed, the chief wildlife warden has asked not to kill the animal, but to tranquilise it. But we are facing major pressure from the residents in this regard."
According to the 2005 status paper, Uttarakhand had 141 tigers in the Corbett Park, which is assumed to be one of the key tiger habitats in the country as the dense forest cover provides enough space for the species to reproduce.