Tiger strays into village, foresters under fire
15 Mar 2009, 0348 hrs IST, TNN
KOLKATA: Forest department officials came in for some rough treatment from villagers in Shamshernagar, North 24-Parganas, on Friday night, after a belated response to repeated distress calls regarding a stray tiger. The tiger entered a cowshed and killed six heads of cattle. It was left to villagers to keep it trapped inside the cowshed till forest officials finally turned up. Personnel from the nearby Border Security Force camp had to intervene, to save the forest officials from the villagers’ wrath.
The narrow Jhingakhali canal separates Kalitala village from the Kukrekhali forest (a part of the Sunderbans). For some time now, villagers have been complaining that the wire meshing put up on the southern bank of the canal had rotten away.
On Wednesday night, a villager dumped the carcass of a cow on the bank of the Jhingakhali. Sometime later, they noticed a tiger emerge from the forest and drag it away. They immediately informed police and the forest department. Nobody turned up and villagers spent a sleepless night. On Thursday, they noticed fresh pugmarks on the banks of the Jhingakhali and contacted the forest department yet again.
On Friday evening, villagers saw the tiger emerge from the forest, cross the canal and enter Swapan Mistry’s cowshed. The owner sought help from his neighbours. Even as the six cows inside bellowed, villagers closed the door and tied it up with a nylon rope. They also collected sticks and bamboo poles to build a fence around the cowshed. “When we contacted the forest department again, officials wanted to know whether we had actually seen the tiger. Finally we got in touch with the BDO and SDO. Forest officials reached the village only after this. Angry villagers vented their ire on beat officer Ayan Chakraborty. He may have got lynched had any villager been harmed by the tiger,” said Arup Hansda, a villager.
After the villagers had been pacified, forest officials tranquillized the animal. It was then transported to Sajnekhali. Vets will check the condition of the animal before deciding whether to release it back into the forest.