A goat being pulled into a cage laid to trap the tiger. Picture by Ashok Majumdar
Calcutta, Feb. 21: Pug marks near a Sunderbans village prompted forest officials to lay a trap and keep vigil through the night.
Some villagers from Tridibnagar claimed to have seen the tiger this evening, Atanu Raha, the principal conservator of forests, said.
A group of fishermen spotted the marks on the banks of the Herobhanga river in Jharkhali around 8 this morning, four days after a pregnant Royal Bengal Tiger had been stoned and thrashed in another Sunderbans village.
“As soon as villagers informed our forest officers, they rushed there. It was clear that a tiger had strayed into the area,” said Pradeep Vyas, the special chief conservator of forests and joint director of the Sunderbans Biosphere.
“We have taken all possible precautions to stop the animal from entering the nearby Tridibnagar village.”
Nylon nets have been laid around the village and a goat has been kept inside an iron cage as a bait. Four teams from the forest department and villagers will stand guard through the night, flaming torches in hand.
But this Big Cat will probably be spared the treatment meted out to the Royal Bengal Tiger in Deulbari. Villagers had pelted the tiger with stones and hit it with bamboo poles after it was brought down from a tree with the help of a tranquilliser bullet. It was set free on Tuesday.
“The Tridibnagar villagers have been told not to attack the tiger if they spot it. Our men will ensure its safe return to the forest,” Raha said.
“If the animal falls into our trap, our officials will immediately tranquillise it and set it free.”
Raha added that if the tiger had indeed been spotted, it might return to the village tonight.
Minister for Sunderbans affairs Kanti Ganguly is camping in Tridibnagar to oversee the arrangements.
The Deulbari incident has made Tridibnagar residents cautious. “We have asked people not to harm the animal. Forest officials will handle the matter,” said 40-year-old Mantu Naskar.