Mangaluru : The much published controversies about the tiger relocation and the death of the tiger thereafter are matters of concern for wildlife enthusiasts and animal lovers. As a wildlife lover and one who has done plenty of research into the systems of living and habitat problems of wildlife, I had followed the incident carefully.
As a member of the State Wildlife Board, I thought it was my responsibility to write to the Honourable Minister for Forests, Government of Karnataka to bring it to his kind notice and request for intervention to save wildlife. While it was not my intention to blame anybody particularly, I do believe that there is plenty of scope for improvement of systems by which wildlife can be protected.
I am releasing the content of the letter that I wrote to the Honourable Minister for Forests to the press for publication so that the general public will know more about possibilities of preserving wildlife. Following is the letter addressed to Minister Rai:
31 December 2014
Dear Honourable Minister Shri Ramanath Rai,
Sub: Killing of a tiger
Western Ghat is a unique biodiversity area and is declared one of the hotspots of the world. Karnataka state is a part of mid Western Ghat and is a natural habitat for our national animal as well as flagship species, the tiger.
The recent controversies involving the tiger relocated to Belgaum made me bring it to your kind attention with the details of the whole incident. First of all, it is important to note that the tiger which was caught from the forest of Chickamagalur was released a few hundred kilometres away from its original and natural habitat. There is a marked difference in the habitat and physiography of the area where it was released. It takes some time for any animal to acclimatize itself to the new place. Over and above, predators such as tigers are known in defending their territory. It has to compete with other predators. It is not clear whether prior to the release of the tiger proper estimate of the prey species available and the presence of other predators were taken into account.
It was evident that after the relocation, the tiger was not properly monitored. Any relocation of animal, particularly predators, requires a proper monitoring of the animal round the clock which will help in understanding the animal, which in turn will give insights into future life of the animal in such relocation. But here, the whole process, due to lack of proper follow-up has considerably damaged and widened the gap of genuine relationship between people and wildlife.
The poor tiger was made to suffer because of crowding in the habitat with other predators, the hunt for the prey species becomes more competitive when they are mixed together. In this process of stiff competition, the relocated tiger might have found it very difficult to get food. Naturally, human being becomes the next easy prey. The tiger was released on 19 November and the human was attacked almost a month later. The fact that it took one month for the first attack by the tiger shows that it may not be a man-eater tiger. The man-made mistake in not properly relocating the tiger must have brought the disaster of inconveniencing the people on one side and on the other the protectors of wild life, like the Department of Forests and other institutions, which resulted in the killing of the majestic tiger wantonly!
Wild animals are normally scared of human beings and attacks are due to inherent instincts which are natural to all living beings. The tiger is no exception. Thousands of people die due to road accidents, but still we use motor vehicles. We won’t abandon or destroy the vehicle that resulted in killing the people. Even the people involved in killing or murdering are set free due to the lack of evidence! However, when it comes to a wild animal and in the smallest of the error that it may make, we humans make a hue and cry and demand its extinction for no fault of it.
I feel, in this case, the poor tiger never got its natural right to live in spite of it not being responsible for the plight into which it was driven. What really amazed me (with due respect to the bereaved families and victims) is the amount of man-force involved in the whole operation. With such a magnitude of human force involved in the ‘operation tiger’, it is surprising that they were not able to catch the majestic animal alive and release it to deeper forests, far away from the madding crowd of the humans. This shows, in spite of breakthrough in wildlife studies, that still we fail collectively in understanding the intricacies of the relationship between wildlife and humans and after considering that wildlife is always in conflict with the humans, and act, many times, unwisely. We should consider this a lesson and at least in future, there should be more coordination among wildlife biologists, different government institutions and agencies, and also the common people including people’s representatives.
The incident has proven that the humans are deviating from the rules of nature; though we say that we Indians show tolerance to different forms of life. This incident involving the national animal, despite the availability of modern gadgets, was treated without the best of care, proving a major concern of wildlife enthusiasts about the plight of wildlife in the country, which seems miserable.
I have only to repeat an often quoted statement in conclusion – ‘Save wildlife for the sake of our own future generations’.
Dr Surya N.R. Addoor, Member-Karnataka State Wildlife Board
Mobile No : 9448548970
Copies has been also sent to the following persons:
Shri Kaushik Mukherjee, Chief Secretary, Government of Karnataka
Shri M. Madan Gopal, Additional Chief Secretary to Government, Environment and Ecology Department, Karnataka Government.
Shri Vinay Luthra, Principal Chief Conservator of Forests, (PCCF) Wildlife, Government of Karnataka.
The Story of the tiger that was killed:
The Tiger released in Bhimgad Sanctuary which killed a woman has been killed at Kongala in Jamboti forest limits on Sunday 28 December 2014 Evening. A 300 strong team of forest department was on the look out of the Tiger which was relocated here and it had killed one woman, one horse and 2 dogs.
The tiger was spotted by a team in the forest, which followed the wild cat to confirm if it was wearing a radio collar. The tiger turned out to be the man eater, after which the shooters fired a few rounds to kill the tiger. Cages were laid with goats as bait in the forests of Jamboti, Mudugai, Daroli, Mugada, Chapoli, Olamani, Ucavade, Vadagoan, Kapoli, Neelawade, Malav, Kanjale and Nerasa.
After confirming it was the same tiger, the shooters fired a few rounds to kill the tiger.