Forest watchers confirmed that the same tiger killed both victims because the first spot and the second spot were about 100 metres apart.
A tiger mauled and killed an 18-year-old named Chethan at a coffee plantation in the Churikad area of the Ponnampet taluk in South Kodagu on the evening of Sunday, 12 February.
Within 12 hours, the same tiger apparently killed a 65-year-old named Raju, who had come for the funeral of his relative Chethan.
The forest watchers confirmed that the same tiger killed both the victims because the first spot and the second spot were only 100 metres apart.
“While Chethan’s body was found at a coffee plantation belonging to one Poonacha, Raju’s mauled body was found near the line houses inside the coffee plantation estate. Raju had come for Chethan’s funeral from Doddahejjur of HD Kote on Monday morning,” forest officials told South First.
“Chethan was planting coffee seeds at the plantation around 6.30 pm on Sunday when the tiger attacked him, while Raju was mauled by the tiger around 6.30 am on Monday, when he had gone to attend nature’s call,” local resident Jagadish told South First.
“A few plantation workers heard him scream and ran in his direction, but by then the tiger had attacked Raju fatally, killing him on the spot. Both victims sustained fatal wounds,” he added.
Family members of the deceased victims refused to move the body of Raju from the spot where he was killed, protesting against the forest officials and claiming that their sheer negligence had caused two deaths in half a day.
Coffee plantation workers and farmers association members rushed to the Churikad area in Virajpet constituency on Monday morning as the news of two deaths by the man-eater spread like wildfire throughout the entire district.
Virajpet constituency MLA KG Bopaiah raised the issue of man-animal conflict and the two deaths at the Assembly session in Bengaluru. He was backed by Madikeri MLA Appachu Ranjan.
Plantation workers and estate owners confronted the forest officials and questioned them as to what they were doing to prevent tiger attacks and elephant menace in the region.
Angry plantation workers and members of the victims’ families demanded that the forest officials invoke a shoot-at-sight order for the tiger or else give them permission to shoot and kill the man-eater, as almost all households had a licensed gun at home.
They also told the forest officials that they all belonged to the clans of Kogadu, who used to observe a tradition of a big-fat grand wedding ceremony for whoever shot and killed a tiger.
Madikeri’s Deputy Conservator of Forest (DCF) AT Poovaiah rushed to the spot and held talks with the plantation workers, estate owners, coffee farmers, and all of their leaders.
He also assured the family members of the deceased and the locals that Forest Department officials would work to minimise man-animal conflicts in the area in accordance with the Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs).
“We have been directed to capture the tiger, and shoot-at-sight orders have been issued if the circumstances are extreme,” Poovaiah told South First.
“We have formed four teams — on four elephants — that are manning the elephant trenches that have been dug to prevent elephants from entering from the forest into the coffee estates. We are combing the entire area,” he added.
Coffee plantation workers and farmers association members said that every year, especially during the harvest season, they experience instances of man-animal conflict.
Because of such attacks, workers refuse to come to work at certain plantations, where the owners face a lot of problems.
“This has been an issue in South Kodagu for about 15 years now, and it reached a peak in the past six years,” Manu Sommaiah, the president of a farmers’ association in Kodagu, told South First.
“We farmers, along with associations of coffee growers and plantation workers, have informed the Forest Department this several times about this, but they show up only after casualties happen. If they did their patrolling work regularly and installed camera traps on suspected animal corridors, such events could be averted,” he added.