SULTAN BATHERY: Fear and rage gripped Vellaramkunnu near Puthussery in Wayanad after a farmer was killed by a tiger on Thursday.
Agitated at the presence of the tiger in the village located around 7 km away from the forest boundary, local residents launched a protest and blocked forest officers demanding that the wild beast be shot dead. The district collector declared a holiday for schools in Thondarnad and Thavinjal panchayats and GHSS, Valery in Edavaka panchayat on Friday.
Thomas, 50, of Pallipurath house was attacked by the tiger while he was working in his farmland around 10 am. He suffered grievous injuries on his legs and hands. His thigh bone was fractured. He was immediately shifted to Manathavady government hospital from where he was referred to the Kozhikode Medical College Hospital. He suffered a cardiac arrest on the way and died later.
The chief wildlife warden ordered North Wayanad DFO K J Martin Lowel to launch an operation to capture the tiger. If the efforts to cage it do not succeed, chemical immobilisation can be undertaken. The Rapid Response team of the forest department launched an operation to capture the beast. Forest Minister A K Saseendran ordered immediate compensation of Rs 5 lahks to Thomas’ family. “I was working on our farmland which is just 200 metres away from his’ farm. We heard a loud roar, and rushed to his farm,” said Jaimon, a neighbour.
‘Thomas did not get time to escape’
“The tiger had dragged him for around 20 metres. He was bleeding profusely. We tied two lungis together and carried him in a cloth stretcher for around 300 metres to reach the road,” said Jaimon, a neighbour.
“Around 8.30 am, Lisy, a local resident who went to cut grass saw the tiger roaming around the paddy field. She raised an alarm and we informed the forest department. We were standing on the other side of the field and could see the farmland of Thomas.
The tiger attacked Thomas before he could escape. The Rapid Response team has spotted the tiger in a marshy area and is tracking it,” said Jomesh, a farmer. Incidents of tigers straying into human habitations and killing cattle have increased in Sultan Bathery, Pulpally and Meenangadi areas, sparking protests.
“Kerala government should follow the example of Karnataka. In the past year, Karnataka has shot dead three tigers that killed humans. Section 11 A of the Wildlife (Protection) Act 1972 gives the power to the chief wildlife warden to kill wild animals that pose a threat to human life,” said Kerala Independent Farmers Association chairman Alex Ozhukayil. Thomas is survived by his wife Siny and children Sona and Sojan.