The Telangana forest department authorities sounded a high alert in the villages and hamlets surrounding Kawal tiger sanctuary in Asifabad-Kumaram Bheem district, a day after a tiger mauled a 21-year-old tribal to death on Wednesday.
Sidam Vignesh, who went to the forest area with two others to graze the cattle, was attacked by a tiger at Digida hamlet of Dahegaon block. The tiger caught the youth by his neck and ran deep into the forest. Vignesh’s mauled body was found by his friends, Bolishetty Naveen and Sidam Srikanth, and other villagers later in the evening.
Forest department authorities say it is the rarest of rare incidents in the Telangana forests.
“At least, I have not come across any tiger injuring human beings, leave alone killing them in my 25 years of service. I am surprised how it happened,” A Shankaran, officer on special duty (wild life) in the forest department, told Hindustan Times.
Apparently, the tiger had eaten some flesh of Vignesh’s body, before abandoning it. “There are no man-eaters in our forests. So, it is shocking for us. May be, the tiger was too hungry and might have not found its prey for a long time,” he said.
He said there was also a possibility of the tiger mistaking Vignesh as an animal, as he was in a bent position behind the bushes. “There are at least four tigers in the forests moving between Kawal tiger reserve and Tadoba tiger reserve in Maharashtra.
“They travel for 10-12 kilometres in a span of 10 hours. There have been incidents of tigers preying upon cattle in the tribal villages adjacent to the forests, but killing a man has never happened before,” Shankaran said.
The killing of Vighnesh sent panic waves among the tribal people in the area, who immediately alerted the local forest officials and the police, who launched a hunt for the tiger. “We have laid two trap-cages along with bait to catch the wild cat. We shall put up two more on Friday and are confident of catching the tiger,” the forest official said.
Once the tiger is caught, the forest officials will take a call on what to do after consulting the National Tiger Reserve authorities. “We shall decide whether we should leave the animal deep in the forests or hand over to any zoo authorities,” Shankaran said.
The forest department announced an amount of Rs 5 lakh as ex gratia to the family of Vighnesh. “We shall hand over the amount after completing the formalities by the local revenue staff,” Shankaran said.