Op man-eater betrayed amateurism
Ooty: This is perhaps the worst ever jungle operation in India. The legendary man-eater hunters such as Jim Corbett and Kenneth Anderson would turn in their graves at the ham handed manner in which the state forest department, the police's special task force (STF) and the district administration handled the scourge of the striped killer of DRF (Doddabetta Reserve Forest).
The high point of the muddle was that the huge team took almost four hours to find out whether the tiger was male or female. The first information report put out by the jubilant victors, soon after the carnivore was shot dead inside the Doddabetta forest at around 8.30 pm, was that it was a tigress and she was around eight years old.
Even the Ooty district collector Dr P Sankar was insisting well past 10 pm that the information he had got was that it was a tigress. Only around midnight did the truth dawned upon the wise foresters that it was a male, a tiger.
All through the amateurish operation launched since the first kill happened on January 4 at Solada village-Kavitha Ravi, 35, a poor woman farmer-the foresters kept insisting that the 'camera traps' set up at different places in the forest and the nearby hamlets showed the evil prowler to be a tigress.
And so when the animal was shot dead, that theory remained stuck on their minds and perhaps nobody bothered to do some very basic 'check-out' to know its sex. It was around midnight that V.T. Kandasamy, conservator of forests, Coimbatore zone, convened a press conference to tell the nagging reporters that there was “some confusion” and error in the analysis of the camera images, and it was actually a tiger, not a tigress!
It must be noted that there were veterinarians of the forest department as well as four officers of the Indian Forest Service (IFS) at the spot when the tiger was shot dead. Perhaps they did not have enough time to look under the bleeding belly to find out the animal's sex as the STF men carried it away for a 'victory march' around the Kappachi village, where the tiger had found its last two meals-cows killed on January 20 and 22.
Actually, the STF men had no reason to show off as the fatal bullets punctured the tiger's abdomen whereas an experienced shikari would be proud only of a headshot. But then, the poor cops cannot be blamed.
All that set them apart from their khaki cousins was their camouflage uniforms; otherwise, they had no clue how to handle this operation. None of those men had ever seen a tiger, except perhaps inside a zoo cage, leave alone track down a man-eater.