The Post Pandemic Rise in Tiger Attacks in the Sunderbans
Ground report from Kultali, where a tiger was captured and released after 6 days
South 24 Parganas, India: It has been a tense week in Kultali Block, which has now ended with the capture and release of a Royal Bengal Tiger, which entered a residential area in the Sunderbans. With the help of the villagers, forest workers were able to catch the large cat by making it unconscious.
The people of Dongajora, Shekhpara area on the banks of Piyali river were unable to eat and drink in fear of the tiger, as the human-animal conflict has escalated in this region - with several families sharing stories of tiger attacks and loss.
Footprints could be clearly seen on the wet ground in the morning. The villagers were terrified. The forest workers could not catch the tiger even if they got a trap. The village of Kultali was counting the days in terror.
The trapped tiger
For six days, the tiger was on the loose, with all efforts to capture her rendered impossible. Eventually, forest workers were able to pin the tiger’s location, as she was on the other side of the Piyali River. She was hungry and tired as she had been in the same area for five days in a row, and the villagers tried to intimidate and scare away the tiger but without success. Eventually, the forest workers came up with a trick to capture the tiger.
The forest workers brought the fire brigade and sprinkled water repeatedly but to no avail. The tiger refused to come out. At last the foresters planned to enter the forest with guns. Aiming at the tallest tree, they proceeded silently.
After waiting for about 18 hours on the tree, they (the foresters) finally saw a yellow striped tiger, Sk Mahiuddin told us. He also said that the tiger was hungry. Even though the goat had been tied for so long, the tiger would not come and touch it. They took a shot to sedate the tiger. As soon as the tiger fell down, the forest workers captured her in a cage.The tiger was frightened, tired, weak because of the long hunger and the screams of the villagers.
Villagers running hearing the tiger roar
This kind of situation has become almost routine in the Sunderbans, as humans and animals face off due to shrinking habitats.
Amirul Mandal, a resident of Kultali Sheikh Para, said that as soon as the location of the tiger was identified, it became clear that it was near and did not move away. Mandal shared a story that one day, while the villagers were out, the tiger suddenly roared. While fleeing, one of the villagers climbed over the fort and got injured. The villagers informed the forest workers and they demanded that the tiger be caught immediately. He also said that the water cannon from fire brigades and chilli crackers were key elements used to trap the tiger.
People watching as villagers and officials attempted to catch the tiger.
Forest minister Jotishpriyo Mallick said that the tiger will be examined to see if there are any injuries. It will be treated properly and after that It will be released to the forest.
This incident ended on a positive note, as the tiger was released towards Dhulibasani Jungle under Ramganga Range of Sundarban after treatment.
The tranquilised tiger
Contextually, Tiger attacks became very common nowadays in Sundarban, especially after COVID Situation. “Human Tiger conflict is increasing day by day, its reason is obviously the climate crisis” said activist and school teacher Umashankar Mondal. The tiger is losing their residence and food day by day, he added. On the other hand large numbers of people are dying in that UNESCO heritage site just because of tiger attacks. Tigers have been coming to the Sundarbans locally again and again. It is necessary to find a permanent solution, and the administration should take strong action,” he said.
The tiger was released back into the wild after treatment
Villagers return home after the tiger was captured
Photos by: SUBHAJIT NASKAR