Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Weekly Feline News

Late again!! I know. In my defense I did have to go out of town yesterday. Came across this stray tom cat on the bus terminal on the return journey. Fed him part of my chicken piece. In the end he whapped my sneakers a couple of times and claimed victory by making away with the rest of my fried chicken. Was a beautiful kitty though - looked just like Parker.

Anyways, moving to the straying big cat... the stray bengal tiger in India has claimed another human victim. This time it was a fifty five years old man who was taken by the tiger this past weekend in the forests around the city of Ruduali. The man had reportedly gone into the jungle on Saturday to collect lantana stems that are used for making baskets in those parts. Alarm was raised after he failed to show up in his locality by Saturday evening. A search operation was launched that resulted in the recovery of the man's remains alongside some blood-stained clothes on Sunday. The tiger had eaten portions from the body. This is the second human kill by the tiger in less than a month and there are no signs to indicate that it will be the last. In fact all evidence points to the making of a typical man-eater.. a terror for the village folk, a menace for officials and a source of notoriety for others of its species. I've tried to piece together this cat's itinerary from its start to present, by piecing together reports of the animal's ventures over the past couple of months. To the right are maps showing the relative location of these parts, taken from the software Google Earth (earth.google.com). Click on the images to enlarge them.

It appears that the tiger belonged to Dudhwa Tiger Reserve - a scenic forest in the northern Uttar Pradesh state of India - spread over six hundred square kilometers over the foothills of Himalayas right next to the India-Nepal border. It was from here that the tiger strayed out in late November possibly in pursuit of a prey animal that it was following near the southern rim of the forest. The big cat was first sighted on the outskirts of the reserve on Nov 24. A few days later the pug marks or paw prints of the tiger were sighted in Shahjahanpur, a district over sixty miles to the southwest of Dudhwa. On November 30 the tiger was first seen in Sitapur, a city of over one hundred and fifty thousand people, located on the highway connecting the state capital Lucknow to the national capital New Delhi. The tiger stayed here for several days, hiding in sugarcane fields and moving in circles across the region. There are reports of aborted attacks on people and cattle by the big cat during its stay in Sitapur. After playing hide and seek with the pursuing forest officials for a few days, the tiger moved on southeast - killing a cow in the Sidhauli forest range on 3rd December. It was here that the tiger was confirmed to be a young adult male. He continued along this trajectory, reaching the Barabanki district by the second week of December. Here he attacked a herd of cattle on Dec 11 and unsuccessfully attempted to take down a calf. The herder and the grazing cattle managed to escape and avoid injury. A cast was made of the pug marks of the tiger and sent to Dudhwa National Park where they were confirmed by the deputy director to belong to the same tiger that had strayed out of the reserve in the last week of November. Meanwhile the big cat kept moving. It spread further panic when news emerged that the felid was moving towards the state capital Lucknow. Just a few kilometers from the city border it was seen by a young boy who was grazing his cattle in Khapurwa village on 13 Dec. The boy managed to flee after the tiger emerged from the forest and began circling the cows. During the night it managed to traverse a busy railway crossing and kill two goats, before settling down just five kilometers from Lucknow. Over the next few days it continued to evade the combing operations of forest staff and ignored completely a trap set by the officials to capture the animal. On Dec 20 the tiger claimed its first human victim when it attacked and killed a fourteen years old boy in the village of Bastauli. The remains of the boy were discovered on Dec 23rd and shooting orders were issued by the local government officials alongside a cash reward for the animal. This prompted protests by conservationists and officials from the National Tiger Conservation Authority of India (NTCA), forcing the local administrators to soften their stance and attempt to capture the tiger alive. Through this mayhem the tiger pressed on. It hunted and partly ate a nilgai, a wild herbivore, on Dec 27 and began moving towards the district of Faizabad in the east. A special team from the Wildlife Institute of India (WII) was then dispatched to assist the local staff in their pursuit of the elusive cat. However, all they could find were the animal's pug marks as it kept moving east, always staying a few kilometers ahead of them. By the end of December it had settled on the periphery of Faizabad and it is here that the tiger is moving about now. During this time it has killed various domesticated and wild animals. On Jan 10 it killed its second human victim in Rudauli. The remains have now been sent for forensic evaluation and fear and resentment towards the tiger have grown. If the big cat becomes an established man-eater it will be quite difficult for the conservationists at NTCA to convince the locals to show restraint towards the animal. At the same time, the task of tracking and capturing the animal alive will become very hazardous. The manner in which the second victim has been killed and the fact that the tiger has consumed part of the body indicates that perhaps he has begun to identify human beings as prey. And it is not beyond reason to suspect that he may now start paying closer attention to his trackers and display the kind of animal cunning long associated with maneaters. There is also the thought now that even if the tiger is captured alive will it be safe to just relocate the animal and risk further injury to human beings somewhere else. In the end the big cat might just have to be moved to a life in captivity. For that to happen though, somebody will first have to find the tiger - and quick - before it hurts somebody else..

And to compound the troubles of the wildlife staff, there are reports now of a second and third tiger that have moved out of reserves to create havoc in neighboring parts. A tiger killed a sixteen years old boy last Sunday in the Lakhimpur Kheri district of Uttar Pradesh, not far from the routes initially taken by the now famous tiger mentioned earlier. A few days later it attacked a fifteen years old girl in another village of the same district - killing her in sight of her siblings and dragging the body to the adjacent fields before settling down to eat. He moved only after shots were fired by the villagers to drive it away. The third tiger is in Ghazipur, in the east of Uttar Pradesh. Authorities have lost track of it. He is believed to have settled now in the forests of the neighboring state of Bihar. He too has reportedly attacked several people over the last few days, fortunately without inflicting a fatal injury to anybody so far. More on these accounts here and here.

There is another account of man-eating this week too. A fisherman was taken by a tiger in Sunderban, the mangrove delta where tigers are known to have attacked people in the past. This attack was uniquely brazen for the fact that it occurred in water. The fisherman was returning home in the evening with the day's catch in a boat alongside his colleagues. The tiger leaped at him from the water before carrying him away and swimming towards the shore. The unfortunate man's friends on the boat tried to save their partner but were unable to do so. More on this here.

The news is not all bad this week. Officials in the town of Ramnagar in the northern Uttarakhand state of India have managed to capture a tiger that had wandered into human settlements some time back. And this Friday he was eventually trapped in a cage placed for this purpose since the last month. He will now be examined and relocated, according to the local forest officer. Full story here.

There is a report that the missing tiger from Ranthambore National Park of India has been found. The big cat had gone missing around three months back and was feared to be lost to poachers. It was therefore pleasing to learn that he has been spotted and is apparently safe and sound, upon coming across this really cool blog.

And the Indian Supreme Court has paved way for setting up a new lion park for the endangered Asiatic Lions in the Gujarat state of India. Asiatic lions are currently located only in the Gir Forest in Junadagh state of India where they face risks from overcrowding and inbreeding. Even though these particular animals will be kept in a safari park in Gujarat, still the lion population will benefit from diversification of their gene pool. More on this here.

I think this is it for this very long post. I'll see you guys soon, hopefully Sunday - if not on Monday or Tuesday... ;) for next week's news. Take care all!


Sandee said...

Wow, more death and destruction. With the arrival of other big cats the area is going to be scared half to death. I can't imagine living next door to wild cats. I'm glad the calf got away.

Great on the two cats that have been found safe and sound. Cats 2, poachers 0.

Have a terrific day. See you next week. :)

Anonymous said...

Wow! very nice article... Never knew all this in this much detail!!

Anonymous said...

That's some story!

Duni said...

Thanks for the update. I feel terrible for the tiger.
Thank you for stopping by my blog, yes, Sammy is doing fine. He doesn't mind in the least, that my roof window is broken...☺

Makoy said...

thanks cats for the comment.

Anonymous said...

I think your weekly coverage really covers most of the feline news. Thanks for update!!!

Mr. Hendrix said...

how sad. I feel terrible for all the tigers who are just trying to survive. It will be hard to keep villagers from just going and wiping out all the tigers.

I am glad 2 of the cats have been found and I can only hope the other is found and placed somewhere safe. poor things.

Black Cat said...

This is such an interesting post! I'm sorry my instincts were wrong and it seems this tiger is now a man-eater. That doesn't bode well for his future, but he's just trying to earn a living! I wouldn't want to be eaten by a tiger but then I don't suppose a cow or goat or deer does either...

Anyhoo, great news that the 2 were found alive and well! I like Dicky Singh's blog. I left a comment but when I clicked "submit" it vanished as if in a puff of smoke!

Thanks so much for your good wishes. The doctor who did my lp said the results wouldn't be through for 2-3 weeks and advised me to try to change my next appointment (which would have been this coming Sunday) so I phoned and it's now been moved to Friday, 13th February. I'm not superstitious, I'm not superstitious, I'm not superstitious... Hahaha! :) xxx

Liz said...

Very very sad to hear the tiger has been killing humans. Great how you've put in a detailed timeline on the tiger's movements and activities. I don't think I've actually read one as comprehensive as this before. I'll check ou those other links and stories too.

Hope you and the kitties are well
Our two new kitties Sasquatch and Yowie also send purrs and hugs to you and the kitties. Dream and Emerald are still a little growly but they say Hi too


Mickey's Musings said...

WOW!! It must be scary having all the Tigers on the loose! I would imagine they are not getting much sympathy either. I feel bad for the people who were killed too.
I do hope the Tigers will be relocated to an area with enough food to keep them from straying.

PS: I have a very old version of PaintShop. Recently I got a copy of Elements 6(Photoshop) from my nephew. It came bundled with a product he got. I look forward to trying out a newer program :)


I always feel bad for the tigers, or whatever animal is just looking for food. I hate that humans have encroached so much on animals territory so that they sometimes have almost no choice but to go into
areas where humans are. It is a tough situation. A very good article and I hope the stray cat you feed will see you again and enjoy more chicken from you.

Karen Jo said...

It's a real shame that the tiger is well on his way to becoming a man eater. That doesn't bode well for him at all. I am happy that two of the tigers were found.

Sharon said...

I wanted to thank you for stopping by my blog to comment when I was sick this week,


PurrPrints said...

Aww, i'm sure the dtray appreciated the yummy meal. I have to say I opted not to read the rest of your post tonight because i was afraid it would depress me, so i stuck with the happy 1st paragraph :)

MaoMao said...

Thankies fur sharing the news with us. We are glad that the two tigers were found.

Kittyhugs and purrs from MaoMao!

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