The elusive Rajura tiger that has killed eight humans and injured three others in Maharashtra’s Chandrapur district in Nagpur division came close to being captured by the Forest Department, but managed to escape the trap on Thursday night.
The tiger, aged about 6-7 years and being trailed by the department for the last ten months, has managed to keep the four tracking teams at bay. “On Thursday, around 10.30 pm, the tiger finally walked into a trap laid inside a culvert on its regular path to pick the bait kept inside. As soon as it entered, the cage door mechanically collapsed, trapping it inside.
“The tiger did attack the bait but probably realised that it had been trapped. So, it managed to pull the door apart escaped,” Chandrapur Chief Conservator of Forest (CCF) N R Praveen said.
Asked how they came to know about the incident, Praveen said, “We had laid cameras at the entrance of the trap. The cameras have captured the tiger entering the cage trap.”
The idea was implemented about a week ago. “Earlier, we had kept our staff in a hide 40 metres away and they were supposed to pull the door down manually with a rope from the distance. The idea was put out by the media in an alarmist fashion asking what if the tiger attacks the team. So, we had to abandon the manual door closure and replace it with mechanical one. If our team was there, we might have been able to tranquilise the tiger,” said Praveen.
Prior to this as well, none of the department’s plans seemed to be working to capture the tiger, now sought by local politicians as well. The department has spread nets on various paths the tiger is known to take, along with baits. The tiger hasn’t yet fallen into any of these traps.
“We also sprinkled urine of a nine-month old female cub we had rescued six months ago from a field. But it didn’t work,” said Praveen.
The pandemic has adversely affected the department’s operation, with two of the four teams being sent home after three veterinary doctors tested Covid-19 positive. “Now only two teams are left on the field,” Praveen said.
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