Killer tiger captured in Karnataka forest

Mysore, Dec 5 : The 10-year-old elusive male tiger, which mauled three people to death in a week, was captured in Karntaka's Bandipur forest Thursday and shifted in a cage to Sri Chamarajendra zoo here, a senior official said.

"The tiger was captured around 1 p.m. after it was tranquilised inside the Bandipur forest and about 300 metres away from the spot where it killed the third victim Tuesday," Deputy Conservator of Forests K.C. Kantharaju told IANS.

Mysore is about 140 km from Bangalore.

Clarifying that the old feline was not a man-eater, Kantharaju said the big cat had two porcupine quills embedded on its tongue, which rendered it incapable of hunting natural prey and it thus attacked the tribal and a villager last week and 60-year-old S. Basappa from the nearby Chikkaburgi village in Hediyala range.

"As it was unable to prey on animals with two quills stuck in its tongue, the tiger attacked the men to avoid starvation. Though it was weak and lurking in a thick bush, we had to tranquilise twice before closing in on it," Kantharaju said.

The killer tiger's identification was verified with its pug marks and droppings found strewn around the area where it roamed after preying on the victims.

Though the state forest department secured permission from the New Delhi-based National Tiger Conservation Authority Wednesday to shoot the big cat at sight after it claimed its third victim (Basappa), its officials decided to first tranquilise it to capture alive.

"We almost called off the search for the tiger as it disappeared into the forest from the twin spots where it killed its first victim (Basavaraju) Nov 27 and second victim (Cehluva) Nov 29," Kantharaju recalled.

A four-member, including a shooter with a tranquilising gun, a veterinarian and a mahout set out on four jumbos earlier in the day after relatives of the victims and people from the three villages stage angry protests and ransacked the forest guest house at Chikkaburgi Wednesday.

Another tiger, which killed a forest guard in the adjacent Nagarahole forest Nov 30, remains untraced despite massive search operation.

In a related development, state Forest Minister Ramnath Rai announced Rs.1 lakh compensation to families of the four victims.

According to former chief wildlife forest conservator B.K. Singh, Karnataka has the largest tiger population of over 300 in India, with about 200 of them in the 2,500 square km Bandipur-Nagarahole reserve forest in the southern range of the Western Ghats, about 250 km from Bangalore.

--IANS (Posted on 05-12-2013)

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