All arrangements in place, but tiger that killed Wayanad farmer remains elusive for two days

Forest Department personnel set up the cage trap for the tiger in a coffee plantation. Photo: Special arrangement

Wayanad: Two days after a farmer was mauled to death by a tiger at Sulthan Bathery in Wayanad, the search for the elusive big cat continues.

Dozens of personnel from the Forest Department and members of the Rapid Response Team (RRT) are on high alert. Besides, 36 camera traps, cage traps and drones for surveillance are in place to track, trap or tranquilise the tiger that killed 36-year-old Prajeesh in the Moodakkolly village at Vakery on Saturday evening.

Personnel of the Forest Department and Rapid Response Team on the mission in Moodakkolly village in Wayanad. Photo: Special arrangement

As the animal had roamed the spot during the night of the killing, the focus of the search operation was around the location where Prajeesh's body was found. The cage trap was laid near the spot where pugmarks were found.

Chief Conservator of Forests, Northern Circle, KS Deepa is camping in the district to monitor the operation. Night patrolling was intensified in the locality to ensure the safety of the public.

“The forest department personnel have split into three teams and are ready to give tranquillizer shots the moment it is out from the cover,” said A Shajna, Divisional Forest Officer, South Wayanad. “Maximum efforts will be put to catch the animal as soon as possible and ensure peace for the people of the region,” she said. The operation that ended on the evening of the second day, will resume Tuesday morning.

People 's representatives and forest staff hand over the first installment of a compensation to the family of Prajeesh, who was killed by a tiger. Photo: Special arrangement

Compensation handed over to family
Poothadi Panchayat president Mini Prakash, Chethalayam Forest Range Officer Abdul Samad, and ward member Rugmini Subramanyan handed over Rs 5 lakh, the first instalment of the compensation to the family of Prajeesh on Monday. It was one of the conditions kept by the people of the locality before they accepted the body of Prajeesh.

A huge crowd from the village had protested before the Taluk Hospital at Sulthan Bathery demanding compensation and issuing a shoot order to kill the tiger.

Forest Department officials search for pugmarks inside a coffee plantation in Wayanad. Photo: Special arrangement

Fear grips villages
The farming belt of Moodakkolly and Vakery is under the grip of fear as people in the agrarian villages remain indoors out of fear of the tiger. Though the coffee harvest season was on, farmers and daily labourers were kept off the plantations not only in the region but also in the nearby villages. The ubiquitous coffee plantations offer vast tree cover with several dark spots for a big cat to hide during the day.

Kalpetta MLA T Siddique told reporters here that there should be a state intervention to take over the abandoned plantations as they are not maintained properly. “There are many plantations bought by people from outside the village who seldom visit the farms and ensure proper maintenance,” Siddique said.

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