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Forest officials botch up tranquilising tigress
A pregnant tigress that had strayed into a village near the Sunderbans had a harrowing time, with villagers going berserk with stones and lathis and forest department officials botching up the tranquilising operation.
AT A time when the country is faced with a dwindling tiger population and there is need for conservation, the forest department in West Bengal messed up while tranquilising a pregnant tigress which strayed into Deulbarigram, a village in Kultuli, in South 24-Parganas, West Bengal late last night.
 
Early this morning, forest department officials, accompanied by police personnel arrived in Kultali and spotted the tiger. Firecrackers were used to scare the animal. When it failed, villagers started chasing the animal with lathis yelling at the top of their voices. The tigress fled to a paddy field. Forest officials, who had arrived unprepared, unable to manage the chaos, sent word to the nearest beat office for a tranquiliser gun. The man-tiger conflict continued with raucous villagers trying to drive the tigress away into the forest area.
 
By the time forest department officials had got hold of the tranquiliser gun, the tigress had climbed up a palm tree. In what was unnecessary haste, forest officials shot at the animal even as she perched among the palm fronds. Despite the tranquliser dart hitting the tigress the sedation did not take effect immediately. Impatient forest officials exhorted villagers to help get the tigress down. Enthusiastic villagers both nervous and trying to show their bravery surrounded the palm tree and beat it with lathis to bring the animal down. In the melee, the tigress, the sedation having started working, fell from the tree and into a pond.
 
Villagers instead of leaving the animal to the forest officials started pelting it with stones and beating it with lathis. With the villagers far outnumbering forest and police personnel, they did little to stop the mob. The tigress helplessly struggling in the water trying to ward off the assault snarled and attacked. One villager was mauled and had to be hospitalised.
 
It was only after the tigress became unconscious did forest officials bring a large net and with the help of villagers dragged the still animal on to the bank. She was put in a cage and bundled onto a waiting launch, which headed towards deeper forests in the Sunderbans. The tigress, which had become extremely weak because it had not eaten for 48 hours was injected medicine. Attempts to feed her with legs of mutton in a sedated state, did not work. It lay slumped in the cage. Forest officials told the local media that animal would be released in the forest on Tuesday after it recovers from sedation.
 
Wildlife experts in Kolkata have demanded an inquiry into the manner in which the tigress was tranquilised. They have called it absolutely foolish to fire the dart when the animal was atop a tree.
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