Maharashtra Forest department's shoot-at-sight orders for man-eater of Yavatmal

Sep 06, 2018, 08:00 IST | Ranjeet Jadhav

Tigress T1 has been found to have killed 13 human beings in the past two years; shooting may be tough as she is roaming the area with two cubs

Maharashtra Forest department's shoot-at-sight orders for man-eater of Yavatmal
The forest department will first attempt to tranquilise the tigress. File Pic

Forest officials are being faced with their toughest task. Principal Chief Conservator of Forest, late Tuesday night, issued orders to shoot Tigress T1 who has killed 13 people in the last two years at Pandharkawda in Yavatmal district near Nagpur. While the shoot-at-sight orders have been given, it will not be an easy task as the tigress is said to be roaming with her two nine-month-old cubs. The cubs will be captured alive and to spend the rest of their lives behind bars.

In order to trap the tigress and her two cubs, the forest department has installed several camera traps in the area where the tigress and cubs are roaming . Four teams have also been formed along with a WhatsApp group, where all information on the tigress's movements is being shared. Chief Conservator of Forest (CCF) PG Rahurkar said, "The PCCF Wildlife orders have declared T1 a man-eater as she has been found responsible for killing humans. While orders to shoot the tigress have come, we will first try our best to tranquilise her, but if that fails, we will have to shoot her. If she is tranquilised, both she and her cubs will be brought to the rescue centre. Of the four teams formed, one has reached the spot. Two more will be joining on Thursday morning and the last team will reach by afternoon. Around 75-80 camera traps have been installed in the area. Five GSM camera traps, too, have been installed, which will send us real time updates and alert us about her movements."

The 13 human deaths (11 men and two women) have occurred from June 1 , 2016 to August 28 this year, including those that have taken place in man-animal conflict incidents in Yavatmal. Based on probe and camera trap images , the forest department has found that T1 is responsible for each of the human deaths there. Each team looking for the tigress comprises a vet, a biologist who can identify T1, one forest guard and one sharpshooter from the police. K M Abharna , deputy conservator of forest (DCF), Pandharkawda, is heading the operation. On Wednesday , senior forest department officials had a meeting with senior police officers, the Collector and sub-divisional magistrate of Ralegaon, so that law and order is maintained and the operation is carried out swiftly.

Senior officials say
Additional Principal Chief Conservator of Forest (APCCF) Wildlife (East) Sunil Limaye said, "The team of experts [as per the guidelines of NTCA] investigating the circumstances, incidences and available camera trap photos, along with documents looking into deaths of people in man-animal conflict incidents in the last one-and-a-half years at Pandharkawda have arrived at the conclusion that T1 is responsible for the deaths. In the larger interest of not just people but other tigers as well, it has been decided that the tigress will be captured by tranquilising it, and shooting it will be the last option."

Wildlife lovers say
Sarosh Lodhi, wildlife photographer and CLaW member, said, "In spite of having a much higher population of tigers, we don't see shooting orders from our neighbouring state, MP. Our forest department should also work on similar lines. It should try and capture the tigress and her cubs alive by tranquilizing them. However, despite having so many human casualties over the months, the forest department/NGOs and the honorary wildlife warden have handled the situation well."

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