THE elusive Rajura tiger, which has killed eight people and injured three others, came close to being captured by the Forest Department on Thursday night, but managed to escape the trap.
The tiger, aged about 6-7 years, is being trailed by department personnel since nearly 10 months, but it has managed to keep the four tracking teams at bay.
“On Thursday, around 10.30 pm, the tiger finally walked into a trap cage, 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 possibly realised that has been trapped. So, it apparently made efforts to pull the door apart and managed to do it to escape,” said Chandrapur Chief Conservator of Forest (CCF), N R Praveen.
Asked how forest officials came to know about it, Praveen said, “We had laid trap cameras at the trap’s entrance. They have captured the tiger entering the trap cage.”
The idea was implemented about a week ago. “Earlier, however, we had kept our staff in a hideout 40 metres away and they were supposed to pull the door down manually with a rope from a distance. The idea was put by the media in an alarmist fashion, asking what if the tiger attacks the team? So, we had to abandon manual door closure and had to replace it with a mechanical one. We had also pulled out our team from there. If our team would have been there today, we might have been able to tranquilise it,” said Praveen.
Prior to this, almost nothing seemed to have worked to catch the tiger, which many local politicians have urged should be shot. The Forest department has already spread nets on various paths the tiger is known to take, along with baits, to wait for it to walk in. As soon as the tiger steps on them, the nets are supposed to fold up from all sides, bundling the tiger along with the bait. The tiger hasn’t yet fallen into this trap.
“We also sprinkled the urine of a nine-month-old female cub we had rescued six months ago from a field and sprinkled it in the area. But it didn’t work,” said Praveen.
The Covid-19 pandemic has also affected the operation, with two of the four teams being sent home after three veterinary doctors testing positive. “Now, only two teams are on the field,” said Praveen.
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