Shoot or Trap? Tiger Expert, Department Differ - The New Indian Express

Shoot or Trap? Tiger Expert, Department Differ

Published: 07th December 2013 08:18 AM

Last Updated: 07th December 2013 08:19 AM

A wildlife conservation expert is saying the Forest Department should have shot dead, and not live-captured, the tiger that killed three humans this week, a line of thought the forest officials reject.

The tiger had spread panic in the Bandipur-Nagarhole region, and was tranquillised and captured alive near H D Kote on Thursday.

Dr K Ullas Karanth, director for Science-Asia, Wildlife Conservation Society said, “It is debatable whether the attempts to live-capture the animal rather than shoot it, after the second proven case of human predation in Bandipur, was justified.”

Dozens of tigers and a larger number of leopards reach this stage in life in Karnataka every year and sometimes get into conflict situations.

“It may not be a practical long-term option to live-capture all of them or to house them in zoos beyond their maximum lifespan in the wild,” Karanth argued.

Rejecting this line of thought, Additional Principal Chief Conservator of Forests (Wildlife) Ajai Mishra said, “Killing is our last option unless this animal, during live-capture, proves to be a threat to our staff.”

He spoke about the many rescue centres and zoos which could house tigers. “With care and treatment, this tiger can survive in captivity for four-five years,” he said.

The 12-year-old male tiger is recovering from trauma and dehydration, Mishra said.

The Wildlife Conservation Society felt that the delay in addressing the threat of the man-eater generated anger among people in the region.

 Such a sentiment, they believe, could undermine the public support required for the conservation of tigers as a species.

“It was unfortunate that lives were lost, but we did everything possible to catch the animal. There is an urgent need today to bring about awareness of the animal’s behaviour and instincts,” Mishra said.

“For that, we need the local community’s cooperation in effectively tackling such a situation in a region having high tiger population,” he added. 

Experts from the Wildlife Conservation Society have been able to identify the captured tiger. With an interesting ecological history, the 12-year-old male tiger, identified as BPT-117, has been ‘camera-trapped’ 10 times since 2004 in a 33-km area.

Studying the dynamics of the meta-population of tigers in Karnataka for over two decades, Dr Ullas Karanth and his team have maintained a photographic database of the big cats. They say this tiger was evicted from his range after May 2013 by a more vigorous rival.

With poor nutrition, broken teeth and injuries, he was forced to forest edges to survive. The last proven case of man-eating was NHT-111, foun+d around Nagarahole in 2006. A 13-year-old tigress had killed livestock, dogs and two humans.

Stool samples to Identify big cat

Mysore: Chief Conservator of Forests B P Ravi said the captured tiger had drunk water on Thursday and was fed beef on Friday. Sources said its stool samples will be sent to labs in Bangalore and Hyderabad to confirm whether it is the killer tiger.


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