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‘Maneater’ error cages tiger
- No hope of return to jungle

Bangalore, Feb. 6: Two months after capturing a “maneater” from the wild, officials today said the tiger had in fact not preyed on humans.

The tiger, captured in Chikkaburghi forest near Mysore, some 200km from here, had apparently killed three people in November-December last year, and was believed to have been a maneater.

A report on the scat analysis of the tiger by the Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology (CCMB), Hyderabad, however, revealed that the big cat was no maneater.

When it was captured on December 5, the animal was weak and bore quill wounds on its chest and mouth. Wildlife officials had reasoned that it had been injured in a fight with a porcupine.

Since its capture, it has been lodged in the Mysore zoo.

“It’s very unfortunate that this tiger had been slapped with the label of a maneater whereas the tests prove otherwise,” said B.P. Ravi, the chief conservator of forests and executive director of Sri Chamarajendra Zoological Gardens (or the Mysore zoo).

“The tiger was very feeble and wounded when we captured it. So, it looks like it had preyed on cattle. It was just incidental that the men got killed as they came in its way,” said Ravi, referring to forensic reports.

After initial tests revealed the absence of human DNA in its scat, samples were sent to the CCMB.

“We had to get a scientific analysis to prove either possibility (whether it is a maneater or not),” said Ravi.

While the bodies of the first two victims were intact, the head of the third was severed. This led to the forensic examinations.

“Tigers don’t become maneaters that easily. Only when there is absolutely no food anywhere around does the tiger prey on humans. But that again is a very distant possibility,” said Ravi.

Now an inmate of the Mysore zoo, the tiger will be used for breeding. It will not be released in the wild as it might not be able to adjust after having been in captivity, said Ravi.

It was initially believed that the tiger had turned a maneater after it became weak from the porcupine attack and lost speed in hunting.

But Ravi explained why the tiger had gone after cattle.

“It had perhaps lost its territory to younger rivals and therefore stood no chance in the forest.”

The people of the HD Kote taluka near the Chikkaburghi forest had mounted a major campaign to eliminate the animal.

They had even attacked a forest camp and set fire to vehicles parked there.

A shoot-at-sight order was issued but the animal was finally darted.