Tamil Nadu's killer tiger spotted, escapes by a whisker

Officials, aided by cattle grazers & tribals, could get within 8m of big cat, but thick bushes keep them from tranquilising it.
Officials plan their strategy; camera traps have detected three more tigers nearby.
Officials plan their strategy; camera traps have detected three more tigers nearby.

COIMBATORE/CHENNAI: After a gap of two days, forest officials on Monday, October 4, 2021, spotted the tiger they were looking for near Sigur Road in Masinagudi. Chief Wildlife Warden Shekhar Kumar Niraj confirmed to The New Indian Express that he spotted the animal 8 m away while sitting on a kumki elephant at 2 pm.

"But tranquilising wasn’t possible due to the thick bushes and bamboo vegetation. We used five teams to corner the animal, and the operation went on till 6 pm, before heavy rains forced us to suspend it," he said. In a desperate attempt to capture the tiger, officially known as 'MDT-23', that allegedly killed four people, the State forest department on Monday engaged cattle grazers to lure the big cat.

About 10 tribal youngsters volunteered to help, and ventured into the Singara range of the Mudumalai Tiger Reserve (MTR) to track the tiger. For their safety, a team of anti-poaching watchers, veterinarians with tranquilising guns, and a kumki elephant followed them closely.

The tiger recently killed two cattle grazers in the Singara range. The last victim was 82-year-old Basavan, whose half-eaten body was found in the bushes on October 1. His death triggered a public outrage, forcing the TN Chief Wildlife Warden to issue a hunting order against the animal under Section 11(1)(a) of the Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972. 

Masinagudi society president G Sakhti told The New Indian Express: "Foresters asked for help and we volunteered. We took our cattle for grazing about 8 km inside MTR. We were told to start from Achakarai and reach Singara via Vibhuti Malai in Bokkapuram. Forest guards found fresh pug marks and matched them with MDT-23. The same exercise will be carried out on Tuesday morning. We carried sharp weapons for safety."

Officials said emergency medical equipment needed after tranquilising the big cat has been kept on standby. Officials have been trying to capture the tiger for about two weeks now. The number of teams engaged in the combing operation ballooned to eight on Monday.

Officials are hopeful the 13-year-old male tiger with failing health and multiple injuries in the mouth and abdomen won’t escape for too long. Meanwhile, camera traps in the area revealed the movement of three more tigers.

Urgent hearing in HC

The Madras High Court has allowed an urgent hearing of a writ petition filed by the People for Cattle of India (PFCI) challenging the hunting order. The case is listed for Tuesday.

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The New Indian Express