Tiger that had ‘strayed’ into a fragmented forest found killed
Dubbed as the ‘Lalgarh tiger’ in media reports, the adult male aged between 10 and 12 years, was allegedly killed by a hunting group with spears and arrows during an ongoing ‘shikar’ (hunting) season in April, according to the state forest department. Initial analysis has revealed skull fractures.
Binay Krishna Barman, forest minister of West Bengal, promised strict action against the perpetrators. “We issued orders to capture the tiger and relocate it as it had strayed into fragmented forest patches that harbour a considerable number of human settlements.
Foresters said the big cat never killed a human.
“The tiger was at risk because it was present in a landscape where it was not seen before. We will continue with our sensitisation programme among the tribals,” said Sinha
Wildlife biologist Milind Pariwakam slammed the portrayal of the tiger as a “stray.” Noting tiger movements or dispersals are routine activities and have always been going on, Pariwakam said such dispersing individuals are good for the population as a whole as they bring much needed genetic viability to the population and can re-colonise areas from which tigers went locally extinct.
“Further, trying to capture a dispersing individual merely because it has been seen in an area is a violation of the law. The Wildlife (Protection) Act under Section 11, allows the capture of an individual only if it ‘has become dangerous to human life’. The Lalgarh tiger was in no way ‘dangerous to human beings’ and thus, its attempted capture was itself a violation of the protection given to wildlife under the law,” Pariwakam highlighted.
“Today, most wild tigers live in small, isolated protected areas within human-dominated landscapes in the Indian subcontinent. These protected areas are too small to even hold demographically viable populations. The future survival of tigers depends on increasing local population size, as well as maintaining connectivity between populations,” said WCT researcher, Aditya Joshi.