Principal Chief Conservator of Forests and Chief Wildlife Warden Dr Shekhar Kumar Niraj Friday issued orders to “hunt down” a man-eater tiger that had killed at least four people and more than 20 cattle in the surrounding areas of Gudalur forest range in the Nilgiris district.
In an order issued under Section 11 (a) of the Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972, Dr Shekhar said the Conservator of Forests and Field Director, Muthamalai Tiger Reserve, Udhagamandalam, has been authorised to take immediate action to hunt down the tiger identified as MDT 23 by engaging forest department personnel with strict adherence to the provisions of the section and the Guidelines of the National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA) as the tiger has become very dangerous to human life in the area.
It was noted that the entire operation should be carried out meticulously and assistance from Kerala’s forest team and special task force should be taken for hunting down the tiger.
“The entire operation shall be photographed and video recorded and a detailed report should be submitted after completion of operation,” the order read.
The decision to kill the problematic tiger was taken after an intense operation to capture it alive for the past one week failed to yield any result.
On September 24, a 56-year-old man identified as Chandran of Devan Estate was grazing cattle when he was attacked by the tiger. He was rescued by the Forest Department and provided first-aid. While on his way to the government hospital in Ooty, he succumbed to the injuries.
The incident triggered outrage among the villagers who demanded the district forest officer to take stringent measures to capture or kill the animal soon. The next day, the tiger attacked a cow in the boundary area.
In the following days, Nilgris district Collector Innocent Divya had asked the villagers to stay indoors as their movement might prevent the big cat from emerging from the bushes. The Collector had directed the Town Panchayat officials to provide the supply of necessary items at their doorstep. Bus services to the area were also suspended.
The officials deployed drones, set up cameras to monitor the movement of the carnivore. As many as five cages were set up at vital locations.
According to a statement, based on the request of the Tamil Nadu Forest Department, an expert team from Kerala and a special task force from Erode were deputed to capture the tiger. However, the tiger eluded all the efforts and continued preying on livestock in the Devan Estate.
“The presence of thick tea bushes, inclement weather, challenging terrain and disturbances by the local public had rendered the capture operation very difficult,” the order noted. It added that Friday, one more person from Masinakudi was killed by the tiger.