- Tuesday, 04 December 2012 13:50
- Moushumi Basu | New Delhi
At a time when tiger protection is the topmost conservation priority of the country, wildlife experts have questioned the circumstances that led to the shooting of the tiger at Wayanad Wildlife Sanctuary in Kerala. They have pointed out that the situation could have been easily avoided had there been adequate planning in advance prior to the tranquilisation process and most importantly, the mob surrounding the operation kept at bay.
Wildlife activist from Kerala, N Sasindra Babu, is to file a PIL in the Kerala High Court against the State Forest department for the tiger killing on Sunday. “The tiger was not a man eater, it was lifting cattle from the fringe villages, how can a tiger be shot in such circumstances,” he questioned.
Further no permission was sought from the National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA) in this connection, he added. NTCA, however, could not be contacted for comments.
Babu further pointed out that the area has nearly 110 human encroachments and cattle kill by tigers in the fringe villages is a common phenomenon across the country, Further, in Wayanad even the history of cattle kill was lesser this year (about 80) in comparison to over 110 last year.
“While sometimes tigers may have to be shot when human life is threatened, the fact that this tiger was shot after it was darted twice earlier, does not seem to suggest a professionally well executed operation,” pointed out Dr K Ullas Karanth, tiger expert and Director, Centre for Wildlife Studies. However, often unruly mobs inflamed by irresponsible media reports make it impossible to conduct a professionally competent chemical capture.
Former member of National Board for Wildlife (NBWL) Praveen Bhargav pointed out that Wayanad, Nagerhole and Bandipur reserves are contiguous stretches of forest that have very high density of tiger population. When there is a problem animal, the first priority should be to remove it from the area. In the process, the operation should be well-planned with adequate technical and administrative support. He felt that had the mob been kept under control, the unfortunate situation could have been avoided. The tiger was already coming down after the second dart but the public created a ruckus and the situation went out of hand.
He also condemned the scenario in which the killed tiger was paraded before the public as though it was a victory, reminding one of the olden days of hunting.
“The mob fury is justified, considering the loss of livestock in their villages,” pointed out Vidya Athreya, wildlife biologist. Such incidents will occur as long as the crowd is not controlled. It is very important thus to cordon off the area of operation with minimal people present. “But with so many people around, the animal being captured gets petrified and runs helter-skelter for cover, as it has happened in this case. Trying to carry out such delicate operations in such a situation can only spell disaster,” she added.