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Pug marks near Midnapore town, Mamata advises use of drone to spot tiger

The tiger has been moving in the district for about a fortnight. Its image was first captured on March 2.

kolkata Updated: Mar 08, 2018 10:28 IST
Koushik Dutta
Koushik Dutta
Hindustan Times
Tiger,Bengal,Mamata Banerjee
The tiger was first sighted on March 2 by one of the seven cameras the forest department installed near Lalgarh.(Photo courtesy: West Bengal Forest Department)

Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee asked the administration to deploy drones to spot the Royal Bengal tiger that is eluding the forest officials to out to catch the predator for the past 10 days even as it triggered panic in Midnapore town by leaving pug marks in its outskirts.

Panic spread in the town after marks were seen in Mukarta and Muchiberia village, less than 10 km away from Midnapore town.

Read: RTR begins counting its tigers on Thursday, with help of 300 camera traps

Forest officials earlier said the Royal Bengal tiger, an adult male, that is roaming in the area for the past fortnight, might have strayed from Odisha’s Simlipal that is about 190 km away.

“Why are you not using drone cameras to find out the location of the tiger that seems to be moving in Lalgarh and Salboni of West Midnapore and in Sarenga of Bankura. Use a drone to spot it,” the chief minister told forest department officials in an administrative review meeting on Wednesday in Bankura district.

About 130 km from Kolkata, Midnapore town is the head quarters of West Midnapore district. According to the 2011 census its population stood at 0.17 million that inhabit 25 wards of Midnapore municipality, a 150-year old civic body.

Read: MP records one-fourth of tiger deaths in India in 2017, highest in country

“We got in touch with the forest department immediately after we came to know of the pug marks of the tiger a few km away from the town. Though the forest officials told us that the animal seems to have moved away from the town, we are not taking it lightly. We shudder to think what it can happen if it ventures inside the town,” said Pranab Basu, chairman of Midnapore Municipality.

“We came to know that the tiger has moved towards Lalgarh again. But as pug marks were found in Murakata and Muchiberia we are taking measures. We also placed a cage in the Chandra Range area,” said Rabindranath Saha, Divisional Forest Officer (DFO) of Midnapore.

“The tiger is moving from one place to another. We are afraid that it may even enter our village. This is the only topic of discussion among the villagers now,” said Swapan Bera, who runs a beetle shop in Nepura village.

“We are just not going anywhere close to the forest. There is a constant undercurrent of panic not seen even during the height of the Maoist activity during 2008-2011,” said Tapan Bera of Muchigeria village.

On February 27 the department installed cameras after villagers complained of cattle vanishing in the area. On March 2, the department placed two traps in Madhupur of Lalgarh.

First Published: Mar 08, 2018 10:28 IST