Angry mob in Uttar Pradesh’s Dudhwa Tiger Reserve on Sunday killed a tigress by running it over with a tractor. The villagers were infuriated after it had fatally killed a local. But the autopsy reveals that the tigress was badly injured to run away from the crowd or the tractor that killed her.
Porcupine quills had punctured the thoracic cavity of the tigress, who was aged between 5-6 years, as per the autopsy report. “She also had a very heavy parasitic load. She was extremely emaciated and had possibly come out of the forest and was in the fields to try and recuperate from her injuries,” said a source.
The source explained that the tigress had probably not been able to hunt owing to her injuries. Quills left behind as a result of foiled attacks on porcupines can be greatly debilitating and can potentially be fatal.
The villagers, though, knew none of this. The sight of a tiger in the fields near their homes in Chattua village near Kishanpur sanctuary of the Dudhwa Tiger Reserve panicked them. They were eventually angry at the forest department for not taking action.
Initially, the forest department was able to keep the villagers calm, explaining to them that tigers usually move away from human habitation. But this tigress didn’t. It killed a domesticated dog, sparking more anger.
“There was a mob which tried to get close to the tiger and beat it away. The tiger couldn’t move away fast enough and attacked one man, leaving him with minor injuries,” said a forest department officials.
The department again intervened and calmed the villagers. But as they tracked the tiger through drone cameras, they realized that she was maimed. The calm remained till Sunday, when a mob once again attacked the tiger.
By the time, the tiger had begun inching her way, painfully towards the forest. But faced by an angry mob wielding sticks and stones, she attacked a man. He later succumbed to his injuries. While the forest department was rushing the man to the hospital, the villagers drove a tractor into the forest.
“They chased the limping tiger, while a crowd cheered from behind and crushed her. After she was crushed she was beaten again with sticks,” added the source.
Field director of the tiger reserve, Ramesh Kumar Pandey confirmed that an FIR would be lodged against those involved. “The killing of a tiger inside the protected area is a serious offence,” he said, adding that the spot where the incident took place was located in the core zone of the reserve.
The tiger is India’s national animal and is categorised as a ‘Schedule One’ species of endangered animals under the Wildlife Protection Act. The WWF notes, “As tigers continue to lose their habitat and prey species, they are increasingly coming into conflict with humans as they attack domestic animals – and sometimes people. In retaliation, tigers are often killed by angry villagers,” according to WWF.