Pulpally: A viral video of a tiger chasing bikers at the Pambra area in the Bathery– Pulppally forest road in Kerala's Wayanad district has put the Forest Department in a fix even as a few aver that it was indeed shot here when some expressed doubt about the location amid frenetic social media debates over the clip.
The Forest Department has decided to initiate an inquiry into the incident as the video gave rise to several arguments and debates on social media in the past couple of days about the exact location. V. Ratheeshan, Chethalayam Range Officer, Department of Forests, asked the Deputy Range Officer at Irulam for a detailed report.
The video, which first appeared on social media last week, was captioned as recorded at Pambra. In the scary visuals a tiger is seen running after a motorcycle after it emerged from the nearby bushes on the left. It is also seen coming very close to the bike, but abruptly it veers to the right side of the road, as the biker races away.
It is apparent that the pillion rider shot the video.
However, a Kannada news channel later aired the same video and said it was shot on a forest path inside the Bandipur Wildlife Sanctury in Karnataka. The channel had aired it as ‘Breaking News’.
According to reports, the video was recorded by the forest guards in the Chethalayam Forest Range in Wayanad as they conducted a search following reports of tiger sighting in the route. But, the Department had denied this at first as leaking the video to social media would lead to disciplinary action against the officials. The video had gone viral before the Department could forbid its circulation.
Some regular passengers on the Bathery– Pulppally road point out that the yellow milestone and the culvert, as seen in the video, are absent on the Pambra stretch. However, some others replied that the yellow ‘milestone’ seen in the visuals was of an Optical Fiber Cable (OFC) of some private telecommunication company, and that there was a culvert located nearby.
With the video going viral on YouTube as well, enquiries started to pour in from different parts of the country.
Range Officer Ratheesan said that enquiry would be conducted into all aspects of the incident and action would be taken against such episodes that cause unnecessary fright and panic among the public.
Travellers attest to tiger alert
Meanwhile, more people have come up with evidence that the tiger was sighted in Pambra itself. Karthik Krishnan, hailing from Kollam, and Sanjay Kumar, hailing from Thrissur, who were riding along the Bathery–Pulppally route by around 3.30 last Saturday vow that the forest staff had blocked them at Pambra with the warning of tiger sighting in the locality. They were warning the passengers that riding in bike along the road was dangerous as there were reports of sighting a tiger in the vicinity. Karthik and Sanjay remember that the forest staff were blocking vehicles which were ahead of them.
Karthik and Sanjay, who are post-graduate students at the Kerala Agricultural University, Mannuthy, were going to the Forest Range Office at Chethalayam for data collection as part of their project work.
Karthik and Sanjay say:
We met the Forest staff near Pambra while travelling from Bathery to Chethalayam. They were tense and told us to discontinue the journey as a tiger was reported to have been sighted at Pambra. They were letting only the large vehicles to continue along the road. All bike passengers were asked to stop. When we told them that it was an urgent trip, for data collection as part of our project work, they let us pass, following a bus that came along just then. We had travelled along the same spot seen in the video that went viral. Of course, the Forest Department was aware of the presence of tiger in Pambra, and that was why they asked us to stop.
After the video went viral and a Kannada channel reporting as it happened at Chamarajanagar in Bandipur area, it had also appeared in many online portals in other languages, as belonging to different areas.
The Forest Department has so far been denying the reports that the tiger had jumped at the local Forester and Guard who were riding the bike keeping a watch out for tiger. It is said that the Department hesitates to confirm that the tiger was sighted in Wayanad fearing departmental disciplinary action against the staff for letting the video recorded for official purpose leak out on social media.