Tamil Nadu Chief Wildlife Warden has issued orders to hunt or kill a tiger, coded as T-23, which is reportedly responsible for the killing of several livestock and four humans in Gudalur in the state. Chief Wildlife Warden Dr Shekar Kumar Niraj IFS issued the order on Friday, October 1 after the T-23 tiger allegedly mauled another person to death. With his death fresh in their minds and the capture of the tiger nowhere in sight, the residents of Gudalur staged a protest on Friday, 1 October, demanding that the tiger be caught.
The order to hunt the tiger was issued under Section 11 (1) (a) of the Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972. The section gives the Chief Warden authority to issue orders to kill or hunt any animal falling under Schedule 1 of the Act (including tigers), if it poses danger to human life. "Orders have been issued... to capture the problematic tiger identified as MDT23 under section 11 (1) (a) of the Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1971, as the said tiger has been resorting to continuous preying on livestock since July 2021,” the order said. It said that 56-year-old V Chandan was “killed by the said tiger” on 24 September.
According to the order issued by Dr Shekar Kumar Niraj IFS, the Chief Warden of Tamil Nadu, special teams were constituted to monitor the tiger, to try to tranquilise and capture it. The Principal Chief Conservator of Forests and Chief Wildlife Warden of Kerala was also called in to help with the operation, as the Kerala Forest Department has “great expertise in capture of tigers”. A special police task force from the Erode police department was also constituted to capture it. The Kerala Wildlife Warden was requested to send a wildlife capture and management team to Gudalur, who were working towards capturing the tiger since September 24 this year. However, the search operations proved unfruitful, given the thick vegetation in the area, challenging terrain and “disturbances” by the local police.
On Friday, one more person in Singara, Masinagudi area under the Gudalur Forest division, was killed reportedly by the T-23 tiger. According to reports, the man’s body was severely mauled to death in the forest area.
It was following this that the Chief Warden issued the hunting order. “The said tiger MDT 23 has clearly become dangerous to the human lives in the area. People of that area are also demanding capture or killing the tiger,” the order read.
The Chief Wildlife Warden authorised the Conservator of Forests and Field Director, Mudumalai Tiger Reserve, Udhagamandalam, to take immediate action to hunt the tiger by engaging forest department personnel with strict adherence to the provisions of the section and the guidelines of NTCA.
In November 2018, a similar order was given to hunt Avni, a tigress in Maharashtra’s Yavatmal district. Avni, the tigress, was believed to have killed 13 villagers and in November 2018, she was shot dead near Borati village in Yavatmal by a team of Forest Department officials and a civilian hunter.
Avni, also known officially as T1, was killed after a massive hunt involving paragliders, infrared cameras, and Calvin Klein fragrances. The incident occurred three months after the Supreme Court allowed authorities to shoot the animal, if tranquilisers didn't work. Her death brought criticism from many corners, as it was argued that Avni could have been captured or tranquilised instead of being shot dead.
(The story was first published on The News Minute and has been republished in an arrangement.)