Villagers habituating hamlets surrounding the picturesque hill town of Ooty, terrorised by a man-eating tiger for a fortnight heaved a sigh of relief on Wednesday evening after forest authorities shot the animal down.
Forest department officials hunted for the tiger that killed three persons, two cows and two goats since it made its appearance on January 5, for a fortnight before they succeeded in killing it late on Wednesday evening.
“The tiger was shot near Kundachappai village by a team of forest officials on Wednesday evening. After being shot the tiger disappeared and its body was discovered after about an hour,” Nilgiris district collector P Shankar said.
Schools in the region were closed after the tiger devoured third person but were later restarted with curtailed hours. All business establishements and shops too followed suit with people rushing home before dusk. Tea-estates and fruit and vegetable farms in 6 villages across 5,000 acres shortened their working hours.
On Wednesday, some 600 villagers had stormed into the jungle armed with sickles and sticks to join the hunt as they felt not enough was being done by the forest department officials.
They were persuaded to abandon their hunt by the officials saying that their presence would only hamper the search operations.
First the forest department officials planned to trap the animal, but later issued orders of shoot at sight. Forest department teams, on foot, mounted on trained elephants combed the forests looking for the man eater for over 10 days.
Eventually technology came to the aid of hunters.
District forest officer Sugeetharja Koilpillai said camera traps had helped narrow down the search area. “The camera traps had captured images of the tiger around Kundachappai village and had also shown it to be weak due to lack of food and also there were blood stains on the pug marks due to an injury. Since it had slowed down and could not travel far we found it exactly where we were looking for,” he said.