Lalgarh Tiger Death Points To Shortcomings In Wildlife Rescue

A tiger that had been roaming a 30 sq. km. swathe of forests stretching across Jhargram, West Midnapore and Bankura districts since March 2, 2018 in Bengal, was killed by local hunters on April 13, 2018 in the forests of Lalgarh, South Bengal.

Representational Image Photo: Gaurav Shirodkar

A tiger that had been roaming a 30 sq. km. swathe of forests stretching across Jhargram, West Midnapore and Bankura districts since March 2, 2018 in Bengal, when it was spotted first, was killed by local hunters on April 13, 2018 in the forests of Lalgarh, South Bengal. Spears, bows and arrows were used to brutally bring the cornered creature down. From drones to live traps and tranquilising teams, forest officials had tried different techniques to capture the animal but all these efforts failed, leading to the death of the tiger at the hands of the local villagers who indulge in ritual hunting.

It has also come to light that several protocols laid by National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA) for tackling tigers in conflict situations were violated during the attempts to capture the tiger and the area in the vicinity of where the tiger was spotted was not adequately secured. The tiger-hunt was carried out as a part of hunting rituals observed by tribal communities in south-west Bengal all year round. Such hunts take place on the occasion of various tribal festivals as well as on randomly chosen dates in absence of any festival. Thousands of hunters congregate in various forest and non-forest areas and kill or capture all wild animals that they find. Tens of thousands of wildlife – mammals, birds and reptiles – die every day during these mass hunts, causing irreparable damage to biodiversity. This may cause local extinction of many species of endangered fauna. Many of these species are protected under Schedule I and II of Wildlife Protection Act, 1972.

“We call upon the state government to involve experts from outside in case they lack the requisite ability to humanely tackle conflict situations involving tigers and other species of endangered wildlife in Bengal.  We reiterate our original request of humane and professional handling of all animals caught in conflict situations, effective coordination between all departments, enhanced sensitivity among the local populace for protecting wildlife and responsible media reporting to highlight the problems involved in human wildlife conflict situations, especially involving big cats,” said Gajender K Sharma, India Country Director, World Animal Protection.

World Animal Protection strongly urges a proper investigation into the death of this tiger at the hands of hunters and strict implementation of the Wildlife Protection Act with regards to any ritual practices that kill large numbers of wild animals.

“We urge the authorities to bring to book those responsible for killing the tiger and punish them along with those who failed in their duty to secure the safety of this migrant animal,” Gajender added further.

World Animal Protection also notes with pleasure the move to consider the areas covering Mahadayi, Mollem, Cotigao and Netravali--located in the Western Ghat region in Goa as part of a new Tiger Reserve. Whilst welcoming the move to declare more tiger reserves, World Animal Protection calls for a comprehensive review of all aspects of the tiger habitat combined with capacity building for handling human wildlife conflict situations as so starkly evidenced in the case of the Lalgarh tiger that was so brutally killed only for the crime of following his own instinct. The tiger is the National Animal of India and World Animal Protection can only emphasise the most stringent implementation of all legislation to save this magnificent creature so that they roam free in Indian forests and wildlife belongs in the wild.

Source: World Animal Protection