Royal Bengal Tiger sighted in former Maoist belt of Lalgarh | kolkata | Hindustan Times
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Royal Bengal Tiger sighted in former Maoist belt of Lalgarh

Over the past few days villagers in the area complained that five cows vanished after sundown.

kolkata Updated: Mar 02, 2018 16:26 IST
Koushik Dutta
The tiger is between 12 and 15 years old, said the divisional forest officer.
The tiger is between 12 and 15 years old, said the divisional forest officer.(Photo courtesy: West Bengal Forest Department)

A Royal Bengal Tiger was spotted at Madhupur forest in the former Maoist belt of Lalgarh in West Midnapore district of West Bengal that has triggered panic among the locals.

The tiger was caught on CCTV cameras installed by the forest department on February 27 after villagers complained that at least five cows vanished from the area over the past few days.

Read: Tiger census begins in January 2018, numbers expected to go up

“The full-grown male tiger was spotted by a camera set up by the forest department. We are wondering how the animal reached this area,” said divisional forest officer (DFO) of Midnapore division, Rabindranath Saha.

“Though some villagers claimed the animal that took away their cattle to be a tiger, initially we did not believe them. But then we laid seven camera traps at different locations in Lalgarh, two of which were laid in Madhupur forest. One of these two cameras caught the image of the tiger on late Friday night. The animal appears to be between 12 and 15 years,” he said.

Incidentally, Simlipal is the nearest tiger reserve that is around 196 kilometres away from Lalgarh. As per the last census, the total number of tigers in that reserve stood at 26.

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

“It is difficult to say that right at this moment. It is possible that the tiger has travelled from Simlipal reserve forest in Odisha,” he said.

Experts ruled out the possibility of the animal straying from the Sunderbans as it is separated by a number of rivers and densely populated human habitations.

“The tiger has killed a few cows in the villages. We were living in fear. Now after the animal has been confirmed to be a tiger, people are in panic. The administration has asked us to be extra cautious after sundown,” said Jangal Mahato, a resident of Melkheria village of Kantapahari area under Lalgarh police station.

Saha said traps will be laid on Friday to catch the animal.

Locals said about 20 years ago a leopard was seen in the area that is about 170 km from Kolkata. But a tiger was sighted for the first time.