Kodagu (Karnataka), Mar 19 (IANS): A tiger, suspected to have killed three persons and numerous cattle in the last couple of months, was found dead in Karnataka's Kodagu district, forest officials said on Friday.
The tiger's rotting carcass was found in the Nagarahole tiger reserve range and Forest Department officials claim that it was the same animal they had been hunting for. The male tiger was approximately 12 years old and had numerous pellet marks and injuries.
The carcass, burnt after a post-mortem examination, was retrieved near Lakunda village, approximately 14 km from Belluru - the tiger conflict village where the Department was conducting combing operations for the past 25 days.
"The skin pattern on the carcass that was found near Nagarahole limits matches the stripe pattern of the identified male tiger in Kodagu that has claimed three human lives," a forest official said.
Karnataka's Principal Chief Conservator of Forests (Wildlife) Sanjai Mohan told reporters that the dead tiger shares many similarities with the tiger that had killed three people.
He added the cause of death and whether it is the same "human-eater" is still being probed through a series of tests and investigations.
According to a statement released by his office, a tiger had attacked and killed three persons in T. Settigeri village in Kumtoor, Belur village of Srimangala hobli, Ponnampet range, and Lakkunda village in Virajpet taluk.
"The dead tiger was found here (Lakkunda) where it had attacked a person last month. Now the forest officials had sent a sample of this tiger's carcass for post-mortem and the viscera for forensic examination," the statement said.
After three persons were killed, the under pressure Forest Department had deployed over 150 personnel and other agencies were also roped into the search.
The inability to capture the tiger led to protests in the district. Enraged residents had staged protests by blocking roads and highways, demanding its capture or shooting.
This issue was raised in Karnataka Assembly too, with ruling Bharatiya Janata Party legislators from the district, Apachu Ranjan and K.G. Bopaiah, seeking permission to gun down the animal.
Karnataka Forest Minister Arvind Limbavali had assured them that he had already issued a shoot-at-sight order, but stressed that the locals had no right to kill it.
It is believed that the suspected killer tiger was pushed out by another male, forcing it to look for another territory.
Nagarahole has seen an increase in the case of fights for territory due to the number of tigers there.
It is the most densely populated tiger reserve in Karnataka, being home to more than 125 adult tigers that are roaming in a 644 sq km protected area, or 11.82 tigers for every 100 sq km range.
Environmentalists had long argued that at least some of the big cats should be translocated from Nagarahole to avoid such conflicts.
Officials said wild animals often venture into human habitats in search of food amid increasing territorial fights, depletion of resources in the forests, erosion of buffer zones, and the lack of corridors.