OCTOBER 1, 2021
Locals in Tamil Nadu’s Gudalur, a small town that is 50 kilometres away from Ooty and is close to the Kerala border, are fearful of stepping outside their homes these days. That’s because, they say, they are being hunted. With an elusive male tiger killing another person on Friday, the fourth in recent days, the Chief Wildlife Warden Shekhar Kumar Niraj issued orders to shoot it dead immediately.
After the 10-year-old tiger killed a shepherd in an estate near Gudalur in the Nilgiris exactly a week ago, the forest department started search operations to trap the feline by tranquilising it. Five teams comprising 75 forest department personnel were in pursuit with sniffer dogs, drones and Kumki elephants to capture the tiger alive. The crew also had a team of veterinary doctors to prescribe the right level of tranquiliser to be used in the darts.
However, the tiger, with injuries, gave the slip to the forest department staff and officials, including some from the Special Task Force from Kerala, for the last six days. The carnivore was found roaming in Mayfield, two kilometres from the spot on September 29 and it killed a goat. The tiger entered Attakarai, coming under Mudumalai Tiger Reserve, some 40 kilometres from the estate and killed an 85-year old man On Friday afternoon.
The tiger has so far allegedly killed four people, and over a dozen cattle.
Locals from Gudalur have been protesting as they have lost their tourism business and livelihood. They blocked the Masinakudi forest road on Friday after the tiger’s latest kill and refused to move, demanding the forest department give shoot-at-sight orders against the animal.
“A hunting order under section 11 (1) (a) is under issue after 6 days of intensive operation for capture has not yielded the final result due to extremely dense bush and undulating terrain despite that 5 teams comprising of more than 75 people are working on the grounds,” said Dr. Shekhar Kumar Niraj, Chief Wildlife Warden of Tamil Nadu.