Ponnampet: A tiger’s keen sense of smell and sound is being used as a weapon to trap the elusive male tiger that has spread terror in parts of South Kodagu. Urine, faeces and recordings of roaring sounds of female tigers have been obtained from the Mysuru Zoo and they will be used to lure the male tiger into particular places where sharp-shooters are waiting on ‘machaans’ (tree watch towers) to dart the big cat.
The tiger is giving a slip to the Forest Department that has deployed over 150 personnel including tracking experts, tribals who have innate knowledge of the big cats and sharp-shooters. Despite the best efforts since Feb. 20, the tiger that has killed a teenager and a 60-year-old woman along with a couple of cattle heads has not been traced so far.
Today morning, however, the tiger had attacked the jersey breed cow owned by Bachira Suja at Bellur village. However, the tiger could only scratch and injure the cow as the owner rushed to the open cow shed hearing the cow’s cries.
Sharp-shooter Dr. Sanath Krishna Muliya has come from Wildlife Institute of India at Dehradun and based on his suggestion, female tiger’s urine and roar sounds are being used to lure the male tiger. It is an 11 to 12-year-old male belonging to the Nagarahole Tiger Reserve and Nagarahole’s Tiger Cell has confirmed that it is a huge fully-grown male.
Keen sense of smell
The urine and faeces samples are being sprinkled at select places in and around Bellur village — where the last cattle head has been killed — hoping that the male catches the scent and come to the spot. Along with the samples, a calf has been tried to a tree to lure the male.
Tigers of both sexes detect each other’s presence mainly by odour. A tigress in oestrus or her reproductive cycle will be detected by the nearby male tiger that will follow her scent and find her.
The tiger trap operation is headed by Chief Conservator of Forests (CCF) T. Heeralal and Nagarahole Tiger Reserve Director D. Mahesh Kumar. They are assisted by in-charge Deputy Conservator of Forests (DCF) of Virajpet Circle A.J. Roshni.
Sounds played to lure big cat
Speaking to Star of Mysore, Mahesh Kumar said that they are playing the recordings of the female tiger at a couple of places in and around Bellur around the radius of two to three kilometres. “Villagers of Bellur and surrounding areas are being advised not to panic by the sound of tiger roars and burst crackers to scare the feline away. This operation has begun now and we are hoping that the tiger is darted,” he said.
Roshni said that pug marks, the distinct stripes of the big cat that have been captured in camera trappings have confirmed that it is a male tiger. “We have obtained its identity from the Tiger Cell and we are making best efforts to capture it,” she said.
Base camp shifted to Bellur
“We are facing many hurdles as the combing operation cannot be conducted with elephants as the coffee trees have blossomed and if an elephant enters the estate, all the flowers will drop and no grower will allow us to do so. Also, there is a lack of visibility due to undulating terrain, trees and foggy atmosphere in the mornings and evenings. But we are trying our best,” she said.
Meanwhile, the Forest officials have shifted the base camp from T. Shettigeri to Bellur. They are now camping at Bellur Government School as the tiger was last spotted in Bellur. Earlier they stayed in a private property and were using the property owner’s resources. Beyond Bellur too they have launched the combing operations near the Bramhagiri Hill ranges but their efforts have not yielded any results so far.