The ID card of the forest watcher who was killed by the tiger on Sunday
The ID card of the forest watcher who was killed by the tiger on Sunday

Even as the message went viral on social media that a fire watcher - one of the volunteers for the forest department's Buddha Purnima census of various national parks, sanctuaries and reserves - had been mauled by a tiger in Tadoba, leading to widespread outpouring of grief and anger, the forest department has attempted to issue a couple clarifications.

One, the incident was not a part of the census activity, and secondly, it cannot be labelled a man-animal conflict, because the tiger did not eat any body part of the deceased.

Usually, on the night of Buddha Purnima, a waterhole census is carried out wherein people partake as volunteers and sit in the machan, along with forest guards, to count the wild animals that come there.

Also, one is not allowed to descend, but in this instance, it has emerged that the victim stepped down to answer the call of nature.

On Thursday morning, a message to this effect went viral on WhatsApp and Facebook: "A fire watcher named Mangaldas Tanaji Chaudhary in Panch Dhara, Tadoba zone was attacked by Matkasur (a famous male tiger)".

Not part of census
However, chief conservator of forests and field and director of Tadoba Andhari Tiger Reserve, Prahlad Garad, clarified that it was not true.

"A forest watcher, who lives inside Tadoba had gone to answer the call of nature in the early hours of Sunday near Tadoba Lake when he died in a tiger attack that is accidental. We are investigating it and camera traps have been installed. We want to make it clear that the forest watcher who died was not a part of any machan census activity," he said.

There were two other people reportedly accompanying the deceased, and they alerted him, but it was too late.

Not man-animal conflict
"The incident is unfortunate, but it is an accident and should not be termed as a case of man-animal conflict. The tiger has not eaten any part of the body and left immediately after," said Dr Bilal Habib from Wildlife Institute of India.