The Tamil Nadu government on Tuesday said it has no plans to kill the elusive 'maneater' tiger, on the prowl in hilly Udhagamandalam in The Nilgiris district in the state, while the Madras High Court asked the Forest department to ensure that the least number of persons entered the forest for its capture while stressing on the need to respect its right to roam free in the wild. The court told the Principal Chief Conservator of Forests to use his best discretion to ensure that the least number of persons intrude into the forest, since the natural habitat gets destroyed the moment a large posse of humans enter any forest, while searching for the tiger named 'T23', which has killed four persons, cows and a goat so far. However, the authorities are left free to deal with the relevant animal for its treatment and for ascertaining its conduct and behaviour, the first bench of Chief Justice Sanjib Banerjee and Justice P D Audikesavalu said.
The bench was passing interim orders on a PIL petition from Sangeetha Dogra of Noida Extension in Uttar Pradesh. The petition prayed for a direction to the Forest department to ensure that the tiger, which is perceived to be dangerous to humans, is captured alive and no steps were taken to put it to sleep or otherwise kill it.
"All that can be said at the moment is that the other animals in the area should not be disturbed to the extent avoidable for the purpose of tracking down this animal, though some discreet measures may be used for such purpose with the object of ultimately treating the animal and respecting its right to remain wild and free to roam in the forest," the bench said. Earlier, government pleader P Muthukumar told the judges there is no plan to kill the animal or maim it. Efforts are on in the Mudumalai area to capture the animal alive and study its psychology and behaviour to assess what future course of treatment may be adopted.
A status report should be filed when the matter appears immediately after the reopening of the court following the ensuing Dussehra vacation on October 21, the bench added. While efforts are on to trap the injured feline, it has given the slip to nearly 100 forest department staff and officials, including some from the Special Task Force from Kerala and tamed elephants for over a week now.