Tiger declared man-eater, to be shot dead (Second Lead)

December 23rd, 2008 - 7:59 pm ICT by IANS  

Lucknow, Dec 23 (IANS) A tiger on the prowl for the past one month in Uttar Pradesh’s Barabanki district is to be shot dead after it was declared a man-eater. The tiger killed a teenage boy, an official said Tuesday.The tiger, which had strayed outside the forests of Pilibhit, was declared a “man-eater” Tuesday after it devoured Khushi Ram, 14, of Serai-Bilari village in Barabanki district, about 40 km from here. Villagers discovered the half-eaten body hours later.

Uttar Pradesh’s chief wildlife conservator B.K. Patnaik, who rushed to the village where the tiger had taken cover in the thick lantana bushes, ordered his men to shoot down the animal as it had taken a human life.

“This tiger has been behaving in a weird manner ever since it strayed out of the woods and has been causing panic among the people of Pilibhit, Shahjahanpur, Barabanki and Lucknow districts where it had remained on the prowl,” Patnaik told reporters.

“It had first made a futile attempt at a man in Pilibhit and now that it has killed a human being, there is enough reason to declare it as a man-eater,” Patnaik said.

Asked if dilly-dallying on the part of his officials was not responsible for turning the tiger into a man-eater, Patnaik said: “Well, our objective all along was to save the animal since it is not more than two-and-half-year old. But now we have no option but to get it shot down.”

He hastened to add: “Of course, if possible, we will still try to tranquilize it. But now our officials have the freedom to shoot it down in case they find it inevitable.”

Four two-member teams of shooters fanned out on four trained elephants, drawn from the Dudhwa National Park, across the 70-80 acre thick bushy forest around Serai-Bilari village.

“Our teams are equipped with both tranquilizer guns as well as lethal rifles to overpower the tiger under all circumstances,” said Patnaik.

A team that was on the tiger’s trail for about a week to tranquilize the animal had to give up its chase three days ago after the tiger crossed the Gomti river and hid in thick vegetation.

“Apparently the animal stepped out from the cover in search of food and found an easy prey in the child,” said Ajit Narain Singh, senior wildlife research officer, who is leading the team.

Earlier, the government sought an explanation from the forest authorities for the delay in capturing the animal. The tiger was last spotted Monday evening in the same village where the incident took place.

Officials believe that the tiger sneaked out from its habitat in Pilibhit a month ago. It crossed Lakhimpur and Shahjahanpur forest ranges before reaching the village.

“When you keep on chasing a tiger which is out of its natural habitat, he is bound to look for food and would be eventually forced to attack human beings,” observed Kaushlendra Singh, member of Uttaranchal Wildlife Board.

Singh, who lives in Lucknow, was of the view that “ignorance and lack of concern for wildlife on the part of wildlife officials was responsible for first compelling the young tiger to devour a human being and thereby creating circumstances to allow it to be gunned down”.

He said: “The state must order a probe into the callousness and apathy on the part of officials to allow the situation to aggravate to such an extent that we are allowing an endangered species to be killed and their negligence must not be condoned at any cost.”

“I am sure if the chief wildlife conservator had taken as much interest as he was doing now after a human kill, the tiger could have been pushed back into its natural habitat,” he added.

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