Kolkata: Setting aside the villagers' claims that there may be more than one tiger roaming freely inside Jhargram, West Midnapore and Bankura forests, the state Forest department on Tuesday confirmed the presence of only one Royal Bengal Tiger there.
Talking to Millennium Post, Ravi Kant Sinha, Principal Chief Conservator of Forests, Wildlife and Chief Wildlife Warden of the state said there is only one tiger roaming inside the forests falling under the three districts. He also refuted the claim of villagers that there might be more than one tiger in the forests.
"The presence of one tiger has been felt in the various forest areas of the three districts. The tiger had been straying in various parts of the forests as a result of which pugmarks have been found in the adjoining areas. The tiger is under stress and it will keep moving. It can also go back," Sinha added.
The tiger is still in the area. Forest personnel are working at strategic locations to capture the full-grown adult Royal Bengal tiger which had strayed into the forest of Lalgarh in Jhargram and had been roaming freely in the forest areas of West Midnapore and Bankura that are close to human settlements. There are both protected and reserve forests in the areas.
Asked if the tiger had come from Simlipal in Odisha or from Jharkhand, Sinha said: "It would be difficult to say where it had come from. We will be able to confirm it after we catch it and compare it with the data base."
He further mentioned that the movement of a wild animal cannot be restricted. It will roam according to its own choice and it does not have any knowledge of human habitats. The forest personnel and tranquilising experts have been carrying out extensive searches inside the forest. Many trap cages have been set up at various locations.
"Once the tiger is tranquilised, it would be taken to a rescue centre depending on its condition. It would be later released into the wild again. Big cages are being brought so that the tiger does not receive any injury while being transported.
Asked if the villagers residing in the forest adjoining areas are safe, Sinha said: "There has been an extensive campaign and awareness programme conducted by the forest department officials in various parts of the districts. The tiger is also roaming through comparatively less dense forests situated close to the villages. People have been alerted not to venture into the forest.
When contacted, the state Forest minister Binay Krishna Burman said: "The forest personnel including the officials are closely monitoring the situation. They are carrying out searches in the forest. It is little difficult to trace the tiger despite the engagement of drones. Once it is caught the tiger would be taken to Jharkhali in the Sunderbans."