School shut in Pilibhit as fear of tiger on the prowl looms large
At least three private schools in Kotwali area of Pilibhit have been closed while farmers have stopped visiting their farms due to fear of being attacked by a tiger, which is said to have strayed from the Pilibhit Tiger Reserve (PTR) into the fields close to the city.
The area, less than 6 km away from the PTR, is covered mostly by sugarcane crop and wild shrubs, which have grown dense in monsoon.
“The tiger is living in the fields close to the city since last week. Our teams are trying to capture and relocate the animal, but in vain,” said VK Singh, conservator of forests.
“Sugarcane fields and shrubs are an ideal habitat for the tiger. But these restrict the movement of ground teams, which are searching for them,” said Singh.
The animal has also used the fields as camouflage to hunt its prey and reach close to human population. According to forest officials, the tiger has killed two nilgais and a wild boar in a week.
Recently, it was spotted close to Pilibhit district court and in a canal just behind a residential apartment posing threat to people leaving there.
Considering that 15 people have already lost their lives in tiger attacks near the PTR in last 10 months, forest officials have not left any stone unturned to prevent such attacks. Four forest teams have already been deployed along with police personnel in areas close to the city to scare away the animal.
Forest officials have also issued alerts in the area, after which schools were shut. “We cannot take a chance with the lives of our pupils, so we decided to close our schools till Friday. They will be reopened only after the advice of forest officials,” said Kuldeep Singh, manager of a private primary school.
Meanwhile, the forest staff is trying to clear the area and called additional units. “Our aim is to clear the area close to the city by this week and then concentrate on nearby fields to capture and relocate the animal,” said the officer.