An FIR under Sections 147 (rioting) and 353 (assault) of the IPC has been lodged against 31 named and 12 unidentified persons who on Wednesday beat a tigress to death near the Pilibhit Tiger Reserve in Uttar Pradesh.
A video of the incident has gone viral, attracting the attention of the international media.
Pilibhit has seen several incidents of man-animal conflict for a few years now. The tigress that was killed had attacked people working in the fields in Mataina village near the Deuria forest reserve. Nine people were injured, one of whom succumbed to his injuries at King George’s Medical University in Lucknow on Friday.
PTR is one among the two tiger reserves in the country — the other is the Tadoba-Andhari reserve in Maharashtra — that has seen increased man-animal conflict in recent years.
While traditionally, tigers have killed more people in the Sunderbans than anywhere else, areas in and around the Tadoba and Pilibhit reserves have seen the more recent examples of chronic conflict. In April 2018, a tiger was killed by a mob that had entered the Pilibhit Reserve in search of firewood.
The Pilibhit Tiger Reserve (PTR) is within 5 km of a densely populated area. There are extensive sugarcane fields, with the lines between the reserve and the villages around it often blurred.
It is also one of the narrowest tiger reserves in the country, which means that in many areas, fields along the edges of the reserve merge with the forests. For a feline, some of these fields located on the edge of the reserve appear to be an extension of its natural habitat, and therefore it is not uncommon for them to move through them.
A major reason for fatal encounters is the expansion of human activity such as farming, timbering, and the lack of infrastructure to control such situations.