Wildlife Institute of India report finds loopholes in Odisha tiger attack claims

WII field biologist Dr K Ramesh’s report shows that the villagers have been making contradictory claims about the incident.

Published: 20th September 2018 04:23 AM  |   Last Updated: 20th September 2018 04:23 AM   |  A+A-

By Express News Service

BHUBANESWAR:  Even as the post mortem findings remain inconclusive about tiger attack, the report of Wildlife Institute of India (WII) expert has raised several questions on the claims by villagers that the woman was mauled to death by tigress Sundari in Satkosia Tiger Reserve. Basing on the report, sources said, Chief Wildlife Warden Dr Sandeep Tripathi has recommended that Crime Branch take over the probe of the entire incident.

WII field biologist Dr K Ramesh’s report shows that the villagers have been making contradictory claims about the incident. During his field visit and investigation, villagers informed that the victim, Kailashi Sai, went to forest at 6 am while the second version was that she went repeatedly since the morning.

However, villagers contacted the tiger tracking team at 11 am about Kailashi missing but started search only at 1 pm. They led the team to a place which was identified as the attack spot and asked the trackers to burst crackers to scare the big cat before pointing to the dead body. Then they created a ruckus and gathered people. No cloth was found on the victim’s body - only a towel and some fire wood. Later, the crime scene was shifted to an open place as shown in the pictures.

The stream where the villagers said the attack took place before the tiger dragged the body to a distance of 50 metres did not have any struggle marks. Villagers had first claimed about seeing the tiger preying on the victim’s body but later the probe revealed that none was witness to such an incident.

The tigress was in the forest area for three days which probably meant it had made a kill. On September 12, GPS locations showed that Sundari was 1.5 km away from Hatibari village before getting closer. When it was 500 metres from the village, tracking teams took position around the habitation’s periphery. 
When crackers were burst, the tigress was 300 metres away from the village and moved farther away which indicated a mismatch in its location and attack site.

Visual examination of Kailashi’s body revealed multiple cut marks - some wounds appeared old - which were not typical of tiger claws that imprint four lines and deep canine wounds. On the contrary, the injury marks were in singles and multiple directions and no deep bruises caused by dragging were found.

“Between reported missing of the woman and discovery of the body, there was a gap of five hours. If the tiger made a conscious attack, there was enough time for it to consume most parts of the body. In the worst-case scenario, it should be taken as an accident, not deliberate killing,” the report said. Since her release, the WII researchers and ground teams of Forest Department obtained 699 GPS fixes, 74 per cent of which were in forest areas while the rest was in 100-metre buffer zone of village and agriculture fields. It suggested that though Sundari explored fringe areas of the village, it mostly moved through forests.

In the last 30 days, it killed a goat and a calf while hunting wild pigs and other animals in forests which suggested it did not depend on cattle.In view of the variations, contradictions and lack of coherence in information, the Chief Wildlife Warden suggested that detailed investigation be taken up by Crime Branch.

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