Chandrapur: The Maharashtra Forest Department justified shooting down a tiger on Tuesday evening in the forests near Dongahaldi village in Pombhurna tehsil of the district by stating that the big cat had claimed five human lives in seven attacks.
Briefing reporters at his office in the evening today about the incident, Chief Conservator of Forests (Chandrapur Division) Sanjay Thakre denied any political pressure or other factors for shooting down the troublesome beast.
He emphasised that all out efforts which were undertaken to tranquilise the feline failed, due to extreme circumstances in the forest area and hence the beast had to be finally gunned down.
"We tried our level best to get the tiger caged after tranquillising it by keeping bait in its tracks, but the tiger never approached any of these. Incident after incident had provided us with good photographs with clear stripe patterns on its body through camera traps installed around places of attack, apart from the tiger`s pug-marks. We had shoot to kill orders from higher-ups. Fading light in the dusk and heavy growth of shrubs due to rains had made it impossible to tranquillise the big cat. So we had no alternative but to shoot it down," he said.
Teams of forest officials were given the job of monitoring the tiger`s movements since February 17, 2014, when the first incident of a tiger attack which claimed the life of a woman called Sunita Chitarlewar from Pombhurna tehsil, in compartment number 90 (B), under the Forest Development Corporation of Maharashtra (FDCM) was reported, he said.
In fact, a tigress with two of her cubs were sighted in the area some two years ago and their movements were also monitored by forest personnel, though no incidents of attacks on humans were reported until February 17, 2014, he said.
As such, tiger attacks caused 12 human deaths during the current year, but seven cases of tiger attacks took place within a four kilometre radius, until August 17, 2014, he said.
"There are more than 45 tigers in Chandrapur division including the area under FDCM. It was observed that the tiger in question was somewhat abnormal in its behaviour. Generally, tigers avoid human presence but this tiger used to charge at humans very often," he said, adding that none of the 45 tigers in the core area of the Tadoba Andhari Tiger Reserve (TATR) are known to approach human beings inhabiting the forest area.
The incident of tiger attack on Dattu Pandurang Dole of Dongarhaldi village in Pombhurna tehsil on August 17, along with with a series of photographs with specific stripe patterns captured by camera traps helped forest officials to zero-in on the tiger, he said.
Fortunately, the tiger was spotted in the vicinity and teams had to toil hard to kill it by evening, he said.
He said that stripe patterns on the tiger`s body and those in the photographs earlier aligned so perfectly, that it is beyond any doubt that it was the same tiger which had claimed five human lives.
He also mentioned that it was a healthy tiger, which probably separated from its mother in recent times.
Monitoring movements of tigers is still on to prevent any possible cases of human-animal conflict in the near future, he added.