‘Maneater’ tiger shot dead in Bihar’s VTR after 27-day hunt

BySandeep Bhaskar and Reena Sopam, Bettiah
Oct 08, 2022 09:39 PM IST

The big cat, blamed for six human deaths in the area within a month, killed two more people in the morning on Saturday, hours before it was shot dead.

A tiger in Valmiki Tiger Reserve (VTR) in Bihar’s West Champaran district, which was declared a “maneater” by the state’s forest department on Friday after six human deaths in the area within a month blamed on the big cat, was shot dead by a team on Saturday, but not before it killed two more people in the morning, forest officials said.

The tiger was killed on Saturday after 27 days of hunt. (HT photo)
The tiger was killed on Saturday after 27 days of hunt. (HT photo)

VTR’s wildlife conservator and field director Dr Neshamani K said the elusive tiger was killed after an intensive search operation that lasted 27 days. “An autopsy will be conducted and the viscera will be sent to Indian Veterinary Research Institute (IVRI) at Bareilly in Uttar Pradesh and Wildlife Institute of India (WWI) at Dehradun for forensic testing,” he said. 

The age of the tiger couldn’t immediately be confirmed.

The two who died in Saturday’s attack blamed on the tiger have been identified as Babita Devi, a widow, and her son C M Kumar (8).

While a 35-year-old man, identified as Sanjay Mahato, was killed allegedly by the tiger on Friday morning, a 12-year-old girl was killed on Wednesday midnight. Prem Kumari, 40, was killed on September 12.

As per official records, nine people have been killed allegedly by tigers in the area since May this year. A 16-year boy, identified as Dinesh Choudhary, was crippled allegedly after the tiger’s  attack on May 8.

Meanwhile, panic-stricken residents of villages in the area heaved a sigh of relief as news spread about the killing of the tiger.

“It was a sleepless night for the whole village. We kept beating tin containers to shoo away the tiger if at all it was hiding near our village,” said Paltu Mahato, a resident of Sitaltola Baluwa village in Ramnagar block where the tiger was killed.

“Despite the lurking fear of tiger, it was not possible for us to confine ourselves in our houses as we needed to feed our cattle. This explains why today’s incident (killing by tiger) occurred,” said Ram Kisun Yadav, another resident of Sitaltola Baluwa village. 

“Since early Saturday, a team of eight shooters, including four from Bihar Police and as many from STF from Patna, along with 200 employees of forest department, surrounded the sugarcane field at Sitaltola Baluwa village. In an operation that lasted seven hours, the tiger was shot dead by the shooters. The animal took four bullets and collapsed,” said Vinod Mishra, circle officer (CO), Ramnagar.

Considering the severity of the situation, the forest department had engaged a team of rescuers and shooters, including Nawab Shafath Ali Khan from Hyderabad.

“The biggest hurdle was sugarcane fields which provided the animal the cover to escape. Though we could see its pug marks near the farm, it couldn’t be captured,” said Surendra Singh, director (ecology) with the state forest department, adding that incessant rain was another problem.

State’s chief wildlife warden, PK Gupta, had on Friday approached the National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA) and had got the permission to get the tiger shot dead.

VTR is the only tiger reserve in Bihar and had 32 tigers during the last census in 2018. Two tigers, including the maneater killed on Saturday, and two tigresses have since died. There were nine cubs at the time.

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