- 6-year-old tigress beaten ruthlessly by villagers
- Officials say incident took place in protected zone of Pilibhit Reserve
- Tiger had attacked man who allegedly approached it
A disturbing two-minute video from Uttar Pradesh's Pilibhit district shows an adult tigress being beaten relentlessly with sticks by people this week, triggering widespread outrage.
The incident took place under a protected zone of the Pilibhit Tiger Reserve, about 240 km from state capital Lucknow. The mobile video, shot by a resident of the Mataina village on Wednesday afternoon, captures the assault by the villagers and even has a background commentary by a witness who says they are assaulting the tigress because she had attacked and injured a villager in the morning.
The tigress was about six years old and she died of broken ribs and injuries to her body. The tigress was cremated after a post mortem. Local forest officials have registered an FIR against 31 identified villagers for the incident and four people have been arrested.
Pilibhit Tiger Reserve field director H Rajamohan told news agency IANS: "She had sustained fractures and injuries from sharp-edged weapons like spears on almost every part of her body. She also had broken ribs."
Reports suggest that a forest department team reached the spot right after the assault but angry villagers even assaulted them and did not let the tigress be taken to hospital, till she died.
"A forest team did reach the spot but by that time, the tigress was in so much pain that even an attempt to tranquilize her would have added to her plight," Pilibhit District Magistrate Vaibhav Shrivastava said.
A magisterial inquiry will probe whether sincere efforts were actually made at the spot by forest officials to rescue and save the life of injured tigress.
An official statement has also contradicted the villagers account, saying the tigress had not strayed from her natural habitat. The villagers were warned multiple times not to engage with the tigress but on Wednesday, a man disregarded the advisory and went close to the tigress and was attacked.
The Pilibhit district and Pilibhit Tiger Reserve have witnessed deaths of as many as 16 tigers and 3 leopards within the jungle and its surroundings since 2012, IANS reported.
Most of the deaths were caused by poisoning, snaring, affliction with contagious ailments like canine distemper, while only a few were due to infighting.
Wednesday's incident was the first in which an adult tigress was beaten to death by villagers in the district.
Former field director of Dudhwa Tiger Reserve GC Misra said, "The tigress could have been rescued and given timely medical aid as the forest officials had reached the spot. But their inability to rescue the injured big cat in a span of over nine hours undoubtedly reflects their inability in protecting wildlife in adverse situations."
(With news agency IANS)