Tiger prowling in Wayanad since 20 days: Exasperated residents lock horns with forest officials

Tussle between resident and officials, Photo: Screengrab

Kalpetta: A tiger that is on the prowl for the last 20 days has given sleepless nights to residents in Wayanad’s Kurukkanmoola region. The footmarks of the tiger were spotted on Saturday morning as well, natives complain.

Exasperated by the ordeal, the locals allege that forest officials are lackadaisical in nabbing the tiger. The rift between the officials and residents escalated to manhandling, and reports have emerged that an official threatened a group with a knife.

In the wee hours of Friday, a family travelling in a car spotted the tiger on the roadside. They alerted the locals, forest officials and people’s representatives in the region. However, natives claim that forest officials reached the spot without any weapons. At 9 AM, when the wildlife warden visited the spot, he had heated exchanges with the ward councillor of the region. Reportedly, an official tried to manhandle the councillor, while another official threatened people gathered there. Yet another official tried to subdue the escalated situation and the team left the place. Over the incident, the residents blocked the roads and marked their protest. They urged for the intervention of the MLA and demanded that senior forest officials should apologize for the manhandling.

Meanwhile, CCTV visuals retrieved from various sites in the region suggests that the tiger has been prowling near human settlements. This has been corroborated by locals who claim they have spotted the tiger.

MLA OR Kelu slammed the conduct of the forest officials. He said that forest officials are camping inside the office and not making sufficient intervention. Similarly, raising the demands of the residents, Wayanad MP Rahul Gandhi has written a letter to Kerala CM.

Notably, the tiger has killed around 17 domestic animals in the region. Locals are always alert and are surveilling the region without sleep. The ordeal is affecting their day-to-day activities. The mental stress of the individuals is also high.

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