Principal Chief Conservator of Forest (Wildlife) A K Mishra has issued orders for shooting the Ralegaon tigress and capturing her two sub-adult cubs. Mishra issued the orders on Tuesday following a report from the standard operating procedure (SOP) committee of Yavatmal that there was conclusive evidence to prove that the tigress and her cubs were responsible for the deaths of three persons within 25 days in August in Ralegaon tahsil.
The deaths of Gulab Mokashe of Vedshi village (August 5), Waghuji Raut of Vihirgaon (August 11) and Nagorav Junghare of Pimpalshenda (August 28) have caused a lot of public anger. After the first two deaths, the forest department had decided to capture the tigress and her cubs but the third death ans subsequent public anger forced a rethink.
As reported earlier by The Indian Express, a ‘shoot’ order was issued for the same tigress in January following two deaths in the area. Some wildlife activists had then moved the HC. The ‘shoot’ order was stayed and changed to “capture only” as per the HC’s directive. The activists had argued that the two attacks had happened in a span of about three months and, hence, the tigress cannot be seen as a “problem” animal.
“Ralegaon area has seen 13 human deaths in tiger attacks over the past two years. This tigress (T1) is involved in five of them, the last three within 25 days of last month. We can’t allow any other human casualty. It will be detrimental not only to public order in the area but also to tiger conservation as a whole. So we have decided to shoot the tigress and capture her cubs. Of course, it goes without saying that we will, as far as possible, try to first capture her as mandated by protocol for such situations. Shooting will be the last resort,” Mishra said.
Asked if the new ‘shoot’ order could interfere with the “capture only” order, Mishra said, “The earlier order was in response to the situation at that time. We are now confronted with a new, more grave situation. Hence the new shoot order.”
“I have directed the Yavatmal authorities to requisition sharpshooters from the police or any other source,” he added.
The man-tiger conflict in Vidarbha has seen three tigers being shot dead since 2007. Scores of human deaths have since been reported.