After issuing a capture or kill order, the Karnataka Forest Department on Wednesday changed its tune after much outrage from conservationists. The order had come from Aranya Bhavan in Mysuru after a tiger killed a villager in Chamarajanagar district and is believed to have killed another person. Sanjay Mohan, Principal Chief Conservator of Forests (Wildlife) told the media that no such order has been issued by him.
“Only the Chief Wildlife Warden, has the powers to issue orders to shoot a tiger involved in man-animal conflict. I have not issued such an order. We will capture the tiger alive. We will not leave the tiger in the forest as we believe it has killed two people. The tiger will be sent for rehabilitation to Bannerghatta Biological Park or Mysore Zoo,” Sanjay Mohan told the media.
Speaking on the sidelines of the valedictory programme of the 65th Wildlife Week celebrations on Wednesday evening, Sanjay Mohan said that hundreds of camera traps were set up as part of the search operations and the conservationists along with the Forest Department officials were combing the area. “Only when we properly identify the tiger we will capture it and tranquillise it. We will not shoot at it,” he said.
Sanjay Mohan’s clarification comes after Jagat Ram, the Additional Chief Conservator of Forest (Project Tiger), had on Wednesday morning issued an order to capture or kill the tiger in Bandipur within the next 48 hours.
“It was discussed with The Principal Chief Conservator Forest (Wildlife) and Chief Wildlife Warden regarding the killing of a villager by a tiger in Chowdenahalli Handipura village of Bandipur Tiger Reserve after which it is decided that the elusive tiger will be either captured or shot down within next 24-48 hours. The cooperation of the public in this regard is highly solicited,” the order issued by Jagat Ram said.
The order was issued after the incident on Tuesday, which was the second instance of a farmer being mauled to death by a tiger in the same area in the last two months.
The Hindupur area falls under the Gopalaswamy Range of the Bandipur Tiger Reserve. Tension gripped the area on Tuesday after residents were angered by the death of 80-year-old farmer Shivalingappa. In September, another man called Shivamadaiah was killed by a tiger. The Forest Department, prompted by angry residents, set up traps and cameras to track the movement of the tiger following Shivamadaiah’s death.