Savage humans kill tiger: We rejoice over the tiger census, but what about the Pilibhit mob murdering a tiger?

On International Tiger Day, it is crucial to note that while tiger numbers are rising, so are the beasts within us as well.

 |  4-minute read |   29-07-2019
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The six-year-old tigeress felt safe in her home — but little did she know that her forest home was no longer safe for tigers. In trying to protect her home, she had made the most barbaric and deadliest of enemies — a human lynch mob.

Armed with sticks, rods, axes and spears, the bloodthirsty mob of fifty people cordoned her off.

In a savage assault, they rained blows on her, belaboured her and impaled her. Her pain and agony was ignored by the irate mob in their frenzy to kill her.

tiger3-ani-inside_072919111258.jpgAn agonising death: A savage mob attacked a six-year-old tiger in Pilibhit recently. (Photo: ANI)

Mutely witnessing the inhuman assault were her designated protectors — officers and guards from the forest department. Even more appalling, a video of the tragedy was shot, replete with a running commentary about the men beating the hapless tigress. When the assault ended, she lay still and the mob left her for dead. Her ravaged body finally gave up and death arrived in a few hours to relieve her agony.

Her autopsy report would reveal that almost all the bones in her young six-year old body were broken, with her rib cage bones piercing her lungs, causing her to choke and suffocate in an agonising death.

Compassion, kindness, tolerance and co-existence — these values and virtues are no longer evident in our collective psyche.

If fellow humans are not living harmoniously in today's world, it is but obvious that poor speechless — and vote-less — animals will bear the brunt of an increasingly angry, suppressive and intolerant society. So, when we learn of one more tiger killed in the country, pushing the species faster towards the oblivion of extinction, our heart sinks further. Even the pronouncements of an increase in the tiger population don’t calm these jangled nerves.

One would assume that our citizens would be proud and venerate their living, breathing national animal — just as they respect the national anthem and the national flag. Yet, in the last few years, several tigers have been beaten, run over, crushed or shot dead by locals in Jorhat, Dimapur, Laalgarh and Dudhwa.

Every tiger which encounters human intrusion into the forests becomes fair game for being labeled a ‘problem tiger’, and being killed by angry mobs, or even sentenced to death by the forest departments, just to assuage local sentiments.

Still, nothing prepared the nation for the brutality of the lynch mob of Pilibhit in Uttar Pradesh.

tiger5-aaj-tak-insid_072919111506.jpgThe national animal: But why does it never get the respect it deserves? (Photo: Aaj Tak)

Of late, there have been too many mob killings of wildlife in the country. The anonymity accorded in a mob emboldens the otherwise law-abiding citizen. Mobs get away with wildlife crimes as the guilty rarely face the repercussions of their crime. There are very few convictions for killing even Schedule-1 animals like the tiger or the leopard, and the penalties are no deterrent to violent mobs.

Obviously, forest officials are always rendered powerless against violent mobs — they are neither trained, nor skilled to combat these situations. They have neither the arms, nor the permission to protect themselves or fight the mob.

Very few forest departments have adequate training in wildlife rescues, with most not having teams of trained, skilled and coordinated wildlife rapid-rescue staff — these teams need dedicated officers, wildlife veterinarians with expertise in tranquilisations, wildlife biologists, animal behaviourists, trackers, trained elephants and their skilled mahouts.

What the Pilibhit forest department seemed to lack was a serious intent to protect the tigress.

There are grave allegations leveled in this case too — that the forest officials just didn’t try to stop the carnage or even retrieve the tigress from the mob to take her to hospital for treatment.

Such apathy and reportedly, dereliction of duty from the authorities must be dealt with severely as it shatters the morale of all sincere forest officials who do their best under the circumstances to save wildlife.

The role of the police and the civil administration needs to be highlighted here.

Today, everyone has a mobile phone, and one call should have alerted the police. The district collector needed to be informed by the forest officers immediately, and could have sent a posse of police to control the mob. All said and done, mob violence is a total breakdown of the law and order situation.

The forest officials must be left to deal with the distressed wild animal, and should be accorded protection by a special armed force. Unless and until mobs are controlled, with or without the implementation of section 144 by the civil administration, the forest officials cannot be expected to rescue or save wildlife.

Let the Pilibhit tigress’ death not be in vain. Let us address the above issues with utmost priority, so that there is no wanton loss of human life — and no more barbaric killing of our endangered wildlife.

Also read: A baby White Lion, and a watchful dragon: Why China's enthusiasm for animals rings so false

  

Writer

Sarita Subramaniam Sarita Subramaniam

The writer is a wildlife activist and is one of the first to initiate the #LetAvniLive campaign.

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