Published on Mon, Feb 18, 2008 at 22:56, Updated at Tue, Feb 19, 2008 in Nation section
New Delhi: At the last count they were 1411 and the clock is ticking on the ‘Save Tiger’ front. This time, the big cat has been attacked in India’s largest stretch of mangrove forests – the Sunderbans.
A full-grown tigress, suspected to be pregnant, strayed into a village about 30 km from the Sunderbans on Sunday evening. Hounded by frightened villagers, the big cat, climbed up a tree.
The villagers then set the tree on fire to force her to come down. She ran into a hut, but this too was burnt down.
All this happened even as forest officials were standing by with tranquilisers waiting to take the tiger away.
Each of these people who did not let the Forest Department do their job can be booked under the Wildlife Protection Act. But while some would argue that the villagers were acting in self-defense because the tigress attacked a man, the visuals ? showing the tigress being hounded ? speak otherwise.
This is not the first time an angry mob has attacked wild animals.
In March 2007, a leopard was beaten to death after straying into human habitation in Maharashtra.
In 2007 again, angry villagers beat a leopard cub to death in Pulwama, Kashmir.
If the Sunderban tigress dies, India will have one tiger less in the wild.
But this is not an isolated case. This tiger was injured after it strayed out of the Satna forest reserve in Madhya Pradesh.
Says Forest Medical Representative, Atul Gupta, “We found the tiger injured and after all the investigations only we will be able to say what to do then. Here all the medical facilities would be provided so that the injuries heal fast.”
As forests shrink, incidents of human-tiger conflict will only rise. But such incidents raise key questions:
Is the forest department geared up to respond swiftly to such emergencies?
Should any legal action be taken against angry mobs that decide to take the law into their own hands and beat endangered animals to death?
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