The Karnataka Forest Department has issued capture or shoot orders for a tiger that killed two farmers near the Bandipur Tiger Reserve, officials confirmed.
The tiger killed 55-year-old Shivalingappa while he was on his way to his farm near the Reserve on Tuesday. This sparked protests from the local residents, prompting the department to issue the orders. In a statement, the forest department said, “it is decided that the elusive tiger will be either captured or shot down within the next 24-48 hours”.
T Balachandra, the director of Bandipur Reserve, said Shivalingappa was the tiger’s second human victim. “This tiger killed another person on September 1, and has killed 13 heads of cattle in the past three months,” he said.
Balachandra clarified that the shoot order was only in case things go wrong. “We are not here to kill wild animals. It is a capture order, but one can never predict how stressed the animal will be, and we issued the shoot order in case it attacks forest staff,” he added.
The tiger’s behaviour has the forest department perplexed, Balachandra said. “It is a five- to six-year-old tiger, not injured or old. What is more puzzling is that it has not eaten any of the kills.”
Naturalist Vallish Kaushik, who lives in the area, said the problem began in February, when forest fires ravaged around 11,000 acres of Bandipur Reserve and forced some of the big cats to move out of the core zone. “The failure of the previous administration in Bandipur to control the growth of lantana and parthenium plants resulted in a shift of prey species and the fire compounded the matter.
In this case, Kaushik said, because of this shift after the fire, around four tigers had moved near Mangala village, near where the farmers were killed. “It might have occurred because the tiger has now got a taste for cattle. If one notices the trend, the human deaths have happened around noon, when cattle are taken out for grazing,” he said.
Kaushik said a solution to the problem required much deeper thought. “In July, a tigress’s carcass was found outside the buffer zone. Now, there are these tigers near the village. It shows that there is movement away from the core zone, which has become a lantana and parthenium zone,” he said. “We desperately need to tackle this problem,” he added.
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