Pulpally: In recent years, Wayanad district has become the epicentre of human-wildlife conflicts in Kerala. The attack on humans from tigers, elephants, boars, monkeys and even bats are common. A tiger that attacked five foresters on Sunday has been caught in a trap laid by the Forest Department early on Monday. The big cat had been creating panic in the human-inhabited areas of Cheeyambam in Irulam in the district.
Forester Shajan (34), a resident of Cheeyambam, had sustained serious injuries to head in the tiger attack. Four others – Jayan (26), Balan (35), Suresh (29) and Rajesh (25) left the hospital after medical attention on Sunday itself.
The foresters had set a trap for the tiger on Saturday evening but could not catch it. Hence they set out along with tribal watchers in search of it and was attacked midway. The tiger pounced first on Jayan, who shrugged it off. The animal then attacked Shajan and struck him down.
The tiger fled into the forest as other squad members cried out loud. An unconscious Shajan was taken to the main road and then hospital. Guards too sustained minor injuries while fleeing from the tiger. This led to more protests from locals. Bid to tranquillise the animal had failed early.
Locals had blocked Pulpally-Bathery route in protest against authorities’ inaction in catching the tiger. Its presence in the area lying close to the forest had created security threat to humans as the beast had started targeting domestic animals.
The rising elephant, tiger and leopard attacks on the local residents have triggered panic among the people in Wayanad. More than 20 people are killed every year on an average in wildlife attacks in the region.
Rising man-animal conflict
During drought, the animals and birds from nearby sanctuaries come down to Wayanad forest range in search of water. The forests are shrinking now due to deforestation,
climate change, change in use of land-pattern and urbanisation. This forces wild animals to move into places which have adequate water and food. Further, the unprecedented loss of wild habitats has decreased the tolerance level of wild animals to man and his actions.
Wayanad Wildlife Sanctuary has four ranges, namely, Sulthan Bathery, Muthanga, Kurichiat and Tholpetty.