Even as the country looks for the likely release of the much-awaited tiger census on July 29, Global Tiger Day, an adult tigress was lynched on July 24 by villagers living in proximity to the Pilibhit Tiger Reserve in the Terai region of Uttar Pradesh, officials said on July 26.While the locals said the tigress attacked them when they were working in the fields, the forest department said the incident followed a youth trespassing into the animal’s “natural habitat” despite warnings to avoid contact.The assault on the tigress was also captured taken as a video in a mobile phone by a local of Matena village in Puranpur tehsil. He even provides a background commentary to justify the attack. He says it is retaliation for the tigress’ earlier attack on the youth.A total of nine persons were injured by the tigress in the entire episode, locals claimed, but Vaibhav Srivastava, District Magistrate, Pilibhit, said the figure appeared suspicious prima facie as the animal would not usually attack so many people at one go.The incident took place on Wednesday when one Guddu “suddenly went near the tigress without any reason,” following which the panic-stricken animal attacked him, said Naveen Khandelwal, Divisional Forest Officer, Pilibhit Tiger Reserve.The tigress was living safely in her “natural habitat” in Ghungchai compartment number 12 of the core zone of the tiger reserve, he said.When the youth raised a cry, villagers rushed to save him. Around 43 persons entered the jungle with lathis and ‘sujas’ (spears) and assaulted the tigress, leaving it seriously injured, said Mr. Khandelwal.Died “due to shock”The tigress died of its injuries on the intervening night of July 24 and 25. A post-mortem conducted by a three-member team of experts concluded that the tigress died “due to shock” as a result of blood haemorrhage, broken bones and numerous injuries with sharp and blunt objects.Villager Chandresh said the tigress attacked while they were in the field…in a populated area.” He accused the first officials of negligence and delay in reaching the spot of conflict.Another local told journalists that while working in the field a boy went to the edge of the field to defecate and that’s when the tiger attacked him. The other people working in the field rushed to rescue him but the tiger attacked them as well, he said.In the mobile phone clip of the beating of the tigress, dozens of locals can be seen wielding long sticks and mercilessly thrashing the animal, which lay on the ground helpless on its back and rolled about in pain.On one occasion, the tigress rolled back on to its belly, triggering panic among the villagers who retreated. However, the animal was too injured to strike back or chase them.The person who shot the video is heard complaining that no forest official had reached the spot to mitigate the situation.‘Forest officials attacked’Mr. Khandelwal, however, said the locals also attacked the forest officials monitoring the tigress and created obstacles in their work. Forest inspector Dinesh Giri and his team of security watchers tried to stop the attack on the tigress but had to escape from the spot after the villagers launched a “deadly attack” on them, said Mr. Khandelwal in his report.Mr. Srivastava said the animal could not be tranquillized as doing so would have led to its death given the injuries sustained by it.Legal action was being taken against the villagers who killed the tigress and an FIR had been lodged against several persons, said Mr. Srivastava.A magisterial probe has also been ordered to investigate the entire sequence of events.Around 98 cases of conflicts between humans and tigers, leading to human deaths and injuries have been recorded between 2000 to 2018 in and around the Dudhwa-Pilibhit Tiger landscape, as per the Wildlife Trust of India (WTI), a leading nature conservation organisation that works with the State Wildlife Department.Since 2009, the WTI project team has rescued eight tigers from 36 human-tiger conflict situations, with four tigers successfully released back into the wild.Conflict casesA total of 136 humans have been attacked by tigers or leopards in 94 fringe villages of Dudhwa-Pilibhit forests in 151 reported conflict cases from 2000 to 2013, as per a 2018 report, ‘Living with the Wild—Mitigating Conflict between Humans and Big Cat Species in Uttar Pradesh,’ jointly undertaken by the WTI and the Forest Department.According to the report, attacks by tigers and leopards on humans and livestock marked a seasonal and geographical variation, with most attacks occurring during the day time, suggesting “that the larger proportion of tiger attacks on humans were accidental encounters.”Tiger attacks occurred largely inside forests or on their fringes (54.79%), while (31.5%) occurred in crop fields, primarily sugarcane. Only a small proportion of attacks (13.7%) were recorded to have occurred within houses or near homes.Tiger attacks were found to be higher in winter (42.5%), with the peak in February (19.2%), “which probably corresponds to a high influx of people collecting fuel-wood in forest areas,” followed by summers (39.7%).However, when it came to attacking livestock, the highest number of incidents involving leopards and tigers were reported during monsoons: 45-50%. Though full data is not available, official records from 2003 to 2012 reveal 474 livestock deaths across the Dudhwa-Pilibhit Tiger Reserve landscape, with tigers accounting for 58.6% of the deaths.The high number of attacks on livestock during monsoons “is in contrast to the seasonal patterns of attacks on humans by the two big cat species, and demands more detailed study to determine the underlying causality,” the WTI noted.Attacks by tigers were higher when people visited forests to collect firewood and other non-timber products (38.6%). A high percentage of tiger attacks (32.9%) also occurred when people worked in farms, and about 23.3% when people sat, moved, defecated or urinated in the village periphery or fringe forests.
Less than a month after tea estate workers lynched a 73-year-old doctor in eastern Assam’s Jorhat district, a mob assaulted a doctor and vandalised a government hospital in western Assam’s Goalpara district late Wednesday evening.The Assam Medical Service Association (AMSA) condemned the incident and lodged an FIR with the police in Dudhnoi, about 110 km west of Guwahati. The police said no arrest has been made so far.According to a nurse, three people injured in a road accident were brought to the hospital. The injured included a teenage girl.A doctor on duty declared one of the injured as having been brought dead, but some people who had gathered disagreed. They began vandalising the hospital before taking on Apurba Boro, the doctor.“I checked the patient and found him dead on arrival. But the people started pushing and shoving me while others started smashing the hospital property,” Dr. Boro said, adding that the police rescued him and the other staff before the mob could do more damage.AMSA president Paresh Kalita said the incident should not have happened when the doctor certified the accident victim as dead on arrival. “Such attacks are getting frequent and need to be campaigned against,” he said. On August 31, septuagenarian doctor Deben Dutta was lynched by tea plantation workers after a youth of Teok Tea Estate died. At least seven doctors employed in various tea estates resigned after the incident, citing insecurity.