Kasaragod: The tiger in Cheeral village attacked and seriously injured two more cows in the early hours of Friday. This is the ninth attack on cows in the village in Wayanad's Nenmeni grama panchayat since September 25.
On October 11, Tuesday, the residents observed an angry hartal in Cheeral village and protested against the government for not catching a tiger.
Around 2 am on Friday, the tiger attacked a cow in Kandramala Velayudhan's house at Mundakolly. Later around 4 am, it sneaked into the cowshed of Jaisy P G and pounced on his eight-month pregnant Jersey cow, said Muthanga forest range officer K P Sunil Kumar.
In both instances, alert owners rushed in and the tiger sneaked out from the sheds, leaving behind the injured cows.
Friday's attack was four days after the tiger's last kill on October 9.
The same tiger had attacked another cow of Velayudhan on the morning of October 7. It suffered deep wounds on its back. "We thought it would survive but its condition has worsened. Now it cannot stand properly. Tiger claws can do that," said the range officer.
Jaisy said the tiger caught hold of his cow by the head, breaking some cartilage in the left ear. There is no bite mark. "But the attack rattled the cow. She is not drinking water or eating anything," he said.
The unsuccessful attacks have spooked the residents more, said Suresh M A, convenor of the people's committee that called the hartal on Tuesday. "It will attack again tonight because it did not get food. We are all scared now," he said.
Range officer Sunil Kumar said the department had installed 20 camera traps to track its movement and set up three trap cages, two of them near the houses of Velayudhan and Jaisy. The rapid response team was also at shouting distance. "But the tiger will not enter the cage if it is getting easy access to cow sheds," he said.
The tiger has now got habituated to lifting cattle from cowsheds. "Farmers will have to secure the cow sheds. Velayudhan's cowshed was attacked last week. Yet, it was left unprotected," he said.
In a meeting called by Wayanad district collector A Geetha on Thursday, the Forest Department raised the same issue.
Suresh said one has to consider the condition of the farmers before making such demands from them. "If you look at Velayudhan's house, you will first try to fix his house before thinking about the cow shed," he said.
Jaisy said cows cannot be kept in a closeted room like the goats. "My stable is covered on all sides. The front is left open to let some air in and feed the cows," he said.
Sunil Kumar said people living on the fringes of forest have to adapt because the tigers and leopards have adapted to moving in and out of human habitation. "The viral video from Sulthan Bathery (Wednesday) proves it. The ease at which it was moving tells us that the tiger is familiar with the route and the area," he said.
In the wild, the tigers are ambush hunters, not efficient hunters. It takes around 15 attempts before a tiger gets a kill, he said. "Once they get used to easy kills in cowsheds, it will become big trouble for people. So it is important to deny tigers easy prey. Farmers will have to secure their sheds. That is the only way, the tiger will give a second look to the bait in the cage," he said.