Three people were killed by two tigers on prowl during the last two days in Bandipur-Nagarhole forest range of southern Karnataka, forest officials said Saturday.
“Forest watcher T Suresh (27) was found dead with canine marks on his neck inside the Nagarhole reserve forest earlier in the day,” Range Forest Officer Lokesh Murthy said.
Two other men, including a villager and tribal, were killed by another tiger in Bandipur reserve forest Thursday and Friday after it intruded into their hamlets to prey on their grazing cattle.
“The two victims—Cheluva, 40, a villager from Seegevadihaadi and tribal Basvaraju, 45, from Nadahaadi from H.D. Kote local body—were found dead with fatal injuries on heads and deep cuts on their bodies,” assistant conservator of forests Belliapppa said.
The forest guards have laid traps in the 120 km corridor between the two contiguous forests to trap the big cats after tracing their pug marks.
“We have rushed our guards inside their territory to trap them. Sometimes they stray into villages with human habitat for prey when they are driven out of their territory by their rivals or unable to find food,” Murthy said.
The bruised body of Suresh was found near the forest camp with pug marks of the killer tiger, which appears to have dragged the body to a distance and left.
“When other forest guards did not find Suresh at the camp, a search operation led to his body with firewood scattered around, indicating he had gone inside to collect firewood when the tiger would have attacked him,” Murthy said.
In Bandipur forest, the other tiger was on prowl in the Moleyar range from one village to the other when it attacked its victims (Cheluva and Basavaraju) in a span of 24 hours.
“From pug marks found at the twin spots, it appears the wild cat is an aged one and injured after it was driven away by its rivals in territorial fights, Belliappa said.
According to former chief wildlife conservator BK 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, 220 km from here, in the southern range of the Western Ghats.
“When the tiger population increases, turf wars break out among them for as much territory to roam and hunt. A dozen big cats on average occupy about 100 square km area,” Singh said.
Same tiger behind all 3 attacks?
Conservator of forests HC Kantharaju, who is the director of Bandipur Tiger Reserve, suspects that all the three deaths might have been caused by the same tiger, which might be aged and unable to hunt in the wild. Armed senior officials will now watch the area frequented by the tiger.
(With agency inputs)