Joining the debate on the fate of T-24 (Ustad), Valmik Thapar, one of India’s most respected wildlife experts and conservationists, said relocating Ustad was the best option: “In my 40 years of experience of the tigers of Ranthambore, T-24 is the most dangerous tiger I have ever encountered. He killed four people, including two forest guards and two locals. The local villagers were partly eaten. The forest guards were not eaten because their bodies were retrieved keeping the tiger at bay.
“After the first two kills I had suggested that this tiger be relocated to a captive enclosure but the tiger was given the benefit of the doubt. Later, two forest personnel have had to sacrifice their lives as a result. T-24 (9-years-old) territory included the path pilgrims take to and around the sacred Ganesha temple and Ranthambore fort. This last kill took place at the entry point of pilgrims and in daylight.
“The forest department and the government of Rajasthan have done a spectacularly successful job in relocating a man killing and eating tiger to a one hectare enclosure in Udaipur where he has eaten and is calm and where he will spend his last years. By doing this they have made Ranthambore safer for the brave forest guards who patrol and the tens of thousands of pilgrims who walk.
“Our feelings today must be for the families who suffered tragically in these five years that have gone by. It is for these families that we need to collect money and help. Any person or group who believed that he should have not been relocated would have to bear the responsibility on their shoulders for the next human kill and the accelerating conflict that could result. T-24 was given the maximum benefit of doubt that any man-eating tiger has ever got in recent Indian history.”