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Tuesday, October 26, 2021

Amid bid to track down ‘man-eater’, Madras HC’s order: Don’t kill it

The court was hearing a petition filed by People for Cattle in India, which sought a direction to capture the tiger alive amid reports about an order issued by forest officials to hunt the animal that is believed to have killed three people in areas around the tiger reserve.

Written by Arun Janardhanan | Chennai |
Updated: October 6, 2021 3:08:12 am
During the hearing, the government submitted that there was no plan to kill the animal but to capture it alive to study its psychology and behaviour to assess what future course of treatment is to be adopted. (Representational image)

AS EFFORTS to track down a suspected man-eater tiger, T23, continues in Mudumalai tiger reserve near Ooty, Madras High Court on Tuesday directed the state forest department not to kill the animal.

The court was hearing a petition filed by People for Cattle in India, which sought a direction to capture the tiger alive amid reports about an order issued by forest officials to hunt the animal that is believed to have killed three people in areas around the tiger reserve.

The first bench of Chief Justice Sanjib Banerjee and Justice P D Audikesavalu said: “Don’t go for the kill immediately. It may not be a man-eater. It may have been misunderstood.”

During the hearing, the government submitted that there was no plan to kill the animal but to capture it alive to study its psychology and behaviour to assess what future course of treatment is to be adopted.

Noting media reports about the forest department’s escalated efforts to hunt the animal over the past two days, the court said the principal chief conservator of forest should ensure that people are not intruding into the natural habitat of animals.

“Authorities are free to deal with the relevant animal for its treatment and for ascertaining its conduct and behaviour,” the court said, adding that other animals in the area should not be disturbed to the extent avoidable for tracking down the tiger.

From Sunday, two trained elephants were brought to Mudumalai area to help the forest officials in their efforts to track the tiger besides mobilising logistics support from neighbouring Kerala and Karnataka.

Around 100 forest officials, guards and volunteers have been engaged in the search operation for the past 11 days. The search is aided by drones and camera traps installed at the extended search area in Masinagudi and Singara.

A senior forest officer leading the operation told The Indian Express that the search teams have been asked to tranquillise the animal. “We are supposed to capture it alive, using non-lethal methods,” the officer said.

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