Order to kill the tiger — official apathy to be blamed?

Order to kill the tiger — official apathy to be blamed?

14 Jan 2009, 0006 hrs IST, Neha Shukla , TNN

LUCKNOW: “In Bastauli, while sitting atop the elephant, we had seen it at close quarters but we missed it.” The confession of an official who has been a part of the tiger rescue team belies the claim of the department that despite all efforts they could not track the tiger.

The two-and-a-half-year-old tiger is a victim of the apathy of the department and not just its inefficiency. “There is lot of politics happening over the tiger, why else the efficient officials are not being given a chance to act,” said sources. There is resentment among the junior forest cadres about the way in which this operation has been handled. But, as some of them said, they have to tow the official line.

The foresters have trained their shooting gun at the feline again. The shooting order, which was put on hold after National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA) came in the picture, was enforced on Monday.

The decision came after the tiger killed a 55-year-old man in Saidpur gram sabha of Rudauli tehsil in Faizabad division on Saturday night. The man had gone to collect `lantana’ sticks from the forest for making baskets. It could have been a chance encounter between the man and the tiger but the feline is still not a man-eater. It has, as yet, made no attempt to enter the villages seeking a human prey.

“It is being forced to kill and eat humans to avoid starvation,” said an official from Faizabad. The officials on duty in the area fear that if another such incident happens they might be suspended. But, what about the team which has been messing up the operation since the beginning?

The officials included in the four-member team are experienced but not all of them have handled tiger-rescue operations before. Unfortunately, these are the officials who are leading the team. Others who could have made the difference were tagged juniors and told to sub-ordinate.

“Trapping a tiger might not have been very difficult for the junior foresters who have successfully tranquillised and trapped a rhino but till now they have functioned merely as assistants,” said sources. The officials from Dudhwa who joined the operation in Bastauli village of Barabanki were also denied a chance to act independently.

The department has branded the tiger a threat to human life which can kill a man anytime again. It is the third human kill of the tiger. It killed a man in Deoria range of Pilibhit when it moved out from the forest on November 11 but it did not eat the man. The second man-killing was reported from Bastauli village of Barabanki division on December 20. The 14-year-old boy was killed and partially eaten. The order to shoot the tiger had come for the first time after this incident only.

Although, the department has earned enough criticism from all quarters over its failure, the decrepit team leaders are still in place, blissfully hitting in the dark and missing the mark every time.



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