The caged tiger, on way to Calcutta. Telegraph picture
Jharkhali (Sunderbans), Feb. 22: Around six this morning, Tridibnagar woke up to the frantic bleating of a goat.
The tiger whose pug marks they spotted yesterday couldn’t, after all, resist the lure of meat and walked into a trap.
Principal chief conservator of forests Atanu Raha said it had injuries in the hind legs, which suggest the “possibility of poachers’ attack”.
A crocodile may have also attacked the tiger while it was crossing the river.
It was brought to the Ali-pore zoo hospital late tonight.
After treatment, the tiger will be taken to a reserve in north Bengal.
Fishermen had spotted the pug marks on the bank of Herobhanga in Jharkhali, 150km from Calcutta, yesterday.
The forest department set the trap and villagers lit up torches and cordoned off the riverbank adjoining Tridibnagar with nets to prevent it from straying in.
“But around six, we heard the goat bleat and a tiger growl,” said Bichitra Biswas, 35, a member of the local forest protection force.
The villagers knew that a tiger was in the village but were not sure if it had been trapped. “We heaved a sigh of relief when we saw it,” said Dibas Sardar, 40.
“We are used to tigers coming to the village. But we were scared after the Deulbari incident,” said Innat Mollah, who owns a mechanised boat.
Four days ago, a pregnant tigress attacked five villagers trying to catch it in Deulbari, 100km from here.
The animal was tranquillised after it had been stoned and thrashed mercilessly.
Pradip Vyas, the joint director of the Sunderbans Biosphere and special chief conservator of forests, said it must have been looking for a safe place. “Tigers eat up cubs and so a tigress looks for safer places for giving birth.”
In the Sunderbans, tigers also stray into villages in search of sweet-water ponds as the water in the core area of the forest is brackish.
Vyas said tigers were known to venture into human settlements in search of food, as was possibly the case in Tridibnagar.
“This tiger was hungry. It not only finished the goat but also the two chickens served to it later,” he said.
The cage was covered with tarpaulin sheets and leaves and pulled on to a launch, waiting on the Herobhanga with vets on board.
Thousands of villagers gathered on the riverbank for a look at the animal that had given them a sleepless night.
Around 3pm, the launch started for Canning. When it reached there some three-and-a-half hours later, nearly 1,000 villagers were waiting on the bank of the Matla.
Nearly 40 people were needed to lift the cage onto the mini truck that took the animal to Calcutta.