The Tamil Nadu government on Tuesday said it has no plans to kill the elusive "maneater" tiger on the prowl in Udhagamandalam in the Nilgiris district of the state. Meanwhile, the Madras High Court has asked the Forest Department to let only a few people enter the forest for its capture while stressing the need to respect the tiger's right to roam free in the wild.
The court told the Principal Chief Conservator of Forests to use his best discretion to ensure that very few people intrude the forest since the natural habitat is destroyed the moment a large posse of humans set foot in them while searching for the tiger named "T23", which has killed four persons, cows and a goat so far.
However, the authorities are free to deal with the animal for its treatment and for ascertaining its conduct and behaviour, the first bench of Chief Justice Sanjib Banerjee and Justice PD Audikesavalu said.
The bench was passing interim orders on a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) petition from Sangeetha Dogra of Noida Extension in Uttar Pradesh.
The petition prayed for a direction to the Forest department to ensure that the tiger, perceived to be dangerous to humans, is captured alive and no steps are taken to put it to sleep or otherwise kill it.
"All that can be said at the moment is that the other animals in the area should not be disturbed to the extent avoidable for the purpose of tracking down this animal, though some discreet measures may be used for such purpose with the object of ultimately treating the animal and respecting its right to remain wild and free to roam in the forest," the bench said.
Earlier, government counsel P Muthukumar told the judges there is no plan to kill the animal or maim it. Efforts are on to capture the animal alive and study its psychology and behaviour to assess what future course of treatment may be adopted.
The bench has asked for a status report to be filed when the matter appears after the reopening of the court following the Dussehra vacation on October 21, the bench added.
While efforts are on to trap the injured animal, it has given the slip to nearly 100 forest department staff and officials, including some from the Special Task Force from Kerala and tamed elephants for over a week now.