Tiger on the prowl: Two more fall prey in Pilibhit
Two people were killed in tiger attacks near Pilibhit Tiger Reserve (PTR) in the last two days taking the toll to 13 this year.
A farmer, Tasleem Ahmed (28), was mauled by a tiger on Monday afternoon in Jehanabad area of Pilibhit. Another farmer Shamsul Ahmed (32) was also killed by a tiger on Tuesday.
Both the farmers were working in their sugarcane fields when the attacks took place. Their partly consumed bodies were recovered by the forest staff and sent for post-mortem examination.
“Both the attacks occurred in the fields close to the forest. We believe that the same tiger is behind both the attacks,” said forest conservator VK Singh.
A tiger has reportedly strayed from the forest area and has moved to the sugarcane fields adjacent to the PTR.
In both the cases, villagers and relatives of the deceased staged protests against the forest department and manhandled the officials who reached the village after the attacks.
Additional police teams were called in to rescue the forest officials from villagers and ensure peace in the area.
“We want the forest officials to kill the tiger responsible for the attacks. This is our only demand. We won’t settle for anything less than that,” said Rafiq Ahmed, a relative of Shamsul, on Wednesday.
Meanwhile, the forest department has launched a massive drive to capture the tiger.
“We have deployed over 200 people from the area for the task. Two elephants, seven vehicles and a support staff of 50 men will assist in capturing the tiger,” Singh said.
“We will launch a search in 25 sq km area. Our officials have placed cages with live and dead baits. Officials from the World Wildlife Foundation are helping us in setting camera traps to monitor the tiger’s movement,” Singh added.
The district administration has also extended support and has asked the local police to ensure law and order. Two units of the provincial armed constabulary (PAC) have been deployed in the area.
Pilibhit forest was recognised as a tiger reserve in 2014 and over 50 tigers are estimated to populate the forest.
The reserve has 670-kilometre long boundary which has no fencing and a thin buffer zone. This allows the tigers to venture out of the forest area. The forest officials have proposed a plan to build electric fencing in the reserve but work is yet to begin.
At least 17 people have been killed in such attacks near the PTR since October 24 last year.