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TN Forest Department yet to track down tiger MDT23

 
Chennai, Oct 12 (IANS) Tamil Nadu Forest Department staff, assisted by their counterparts from Kerala and Karnataka, have been combing the Gudalure and Masinagudi sector forest areas for over two weeks now for a tiger that has reportedly killed four humans and 12 heads of cattle in bordering villages.

Tamil Nadu's Chief Wildlife Warden, Shekar Kumar Neeraj is directly leading the operation with 2 kumki elephants, Udayan and Srinivas, and three sniffer dogs from Karnataka. However, the search, which entered its 18th day on Tuesday, has still been in vain so far.

With heavy rains on, the tiger seems to have taken shelter in deep forests.

After the combing operation led to no results, the Chief Wildlife Warden ordered hunting down of the tiger which was construed as killing it. Animal rights group, People for Cattle in India subsequently moved the Madras High Court, contending that killing the tigers was not in consonance with the guidelines issued by the National Tiger Conservation Authority and the court directed the Forest Department not to kill the tiger and instead to capture it.

Balamurugan 34, a farmer who lives near the forest area in Gudalure, told IANS that he "can vouch that the tiger has killed four human beings and is a very dangerous one. It should have been killed but the honourable Madras High Court has ordered not to kill it and we expect the Forest Department will immediately capture it."

Villagers are worried that if the search continues without success for a few more days, the Forest Department may call off and put vigil in the area.

Balamurugan said: "If the search is aborted, in three-four days time, the tiger will attack either cattle or human as being injured it cannot hunt in the forest and will rely on easy prey in villages."

Mudumalai Tiger Reserve Director, D. Venkatesh, talking to IANS, said: "The tiger is assumed to be between 12 and 14 years of age and has injury marks possibly inflicted in a territorial fight with another tiger or during the hunt. It has indeed killed cattle and our search is on and is expected to trap it in the coming days."

Wildlife conservationists are of the opinion that the increased tiger population in the Sigur plateau is one reason for the tiger's transgression into human areas. As tigers become aged, young males supplants older ones who are pushed into habitats with a diminished prey base.

Forest officials said that the tiger seems to be highly intelligent as it has not been spotted in a camera after the intense search has begun while other tigers were seen in the camera recordings.

Officials are tight-lipped over the progress in the search.

--IANS
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