Tiger trapped in UP’s Dudhwa after 10-day operation

Published on Jun 28, 2022 09:40 PM IST
Dudhwa Tiger Reserve field director Sunjay Kumar Pathak said the pugmarks at the locations where casualties were reported over the last few days will be analysed to assess if the tiger caused them
Forest officials said the tiger was captured in Khairatia village in Lakhimpur Kheri at about 2am. (Forest department)
Forest officials said the tiger was captured in Khairatia village in Lakhimpur Kheri at about 2am. (Forest department)

LUCKNOW\LAKHIMPUR KHERI\BAHRAICH: A tiger, said to be one of the two big cats in the Dudhwa buffer zone that killed four people in eight days has been trapped after a 10-day-long operation late on Monday night. The foresters are still looking for the man-eater tigress, which was still on the prowl, officials said.

The captured tiger, which is 6-7 years old, will not be shifted to a zoo immediately and will be kept under observation for 12-24 hours.

“From the analysis of the pugmarks captured by the cameras at the places where human casualties took place, it would be ascertained whether the captured tiger or the tigress caused the casualties,” said Sanjay Kumar Pathak, field director, Dudhwa Tiger Reserve. This may take a day or so

Initially, the forest department claimed the presence of two man-eater tigresses (mother-daughter) in the area, which according to locals, had so far killed around 23 people in man-animal conflicts in Lakhimpur Kheri villages.

Officials later clarified that the initial claims about the presence of two tigresses were made on the basis of visuals from the camera trap that captured the pictures of two big cats. “On the basis of the head size and body movement, one big cat was identified to be the tigress while the visuals of another big cat were not clear enough, and hence, initially we took it as a tigress. But the big cat captured in the cage was a tiger. Efforts to capture the tigress are on,” said the department’s media statement.

Officials also didn’t rule out the possibility of the presence of more than one big cat in the area.

Forest officials said the tiger gradually approached the bait placed at the entrance of the cage installed in Khairatia village at about 2am.

“We placed the cage near the hut of local priest Mohan Das, who was killed by the big cat on June 18 in Khairatia village. This was the point where the big cat was spotted the most. A teenage boy, Ram Singh, and a woman Mindo Kaur, 30, were also killed in a man-animal conflict in the same village on June 22 and June 27, respectively,” said Amit Kumar, sub divisional officer (SDO).

Kumar said initially the big cat approached the bait and left. “But it returned soon after and all we could hear in the dark was the noise of the iron gate that closed soon after the big cat caught the bait,” he said.

Soon after, another one came and sat at the gate for a while and then left, said foresters.

Over the past seven months, Narendra Nagar Beli, Khairatia, Majhra Purab, Dalrajpur, Murtiya, Naurangabad and Jasnagar villages situated on the borders of Dudhwa forest witnessed several casualties due to attacks by big cats.

Mindo Kaur, 30, was the latest casualty reported in Khairatia village on Monday afternoon when she was working in a field. Pargat Singh, head of the village, said the success to trap one tiger will bring relief to villagers but quickly added that people will continue to be cautious since the tigress was still free.

Sanjay Pathak said the hunt for the tigress is on. “We have deputed four teams to tranquillize the big cat and deputed four elephants to carry out combing in the area. Besides, three drone cameras and over three dozen camera traps have been installed in the area to cage the tigress at the earliest,” he said.

He said four tranquillising experts from the Wildlife Trust of India (WTI), Lucknow Zoo authority, Pilibhit Tiger Reserve (PTR) apart from Dudhwa had been hired along with two biologists to assist the operation.

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