Did the Cow really kill the Tiger?
I had just returned to the Anamalai Hills from Bangalore. The next morning a phone call shocked me. The voice said: a tiger is sitting close to a house and a large number of people are gathered to watch it.
I did not believe it at first. A tiger in Valparai? Near a cardamom plantation? I have heard of rare sightings in and around Valparai but this was something I could not believe. Must be a leopard and they must be mistaken, I thought.
The tiger was sitting in the far end corner of a garden. I was amazed to see a tiger sitting in a place so close to human habitation.
It seemed exhausted and the crowd and noise was clearly not helping.
It seemed to be in a lot of discomfort and bleeding from the right nostril.
As time passed by the crowd swelled and the Forest Department with the help of the police were trying to keep the curious onlookers at a distance.
The wait was finally over when the doctor arrived. It had been a 10 hour journey for him. He fixed the dart and loaded up the tranquilizer.
The rain had picked up and the crowd was swelling by the minute. The dart with tranquiliser was fired. The tiger, exhausted and helpless, nevertheless, pulled the dart out. Later, the tranquilizer took effect and the tiger slowly went down.
The Forest Department staff approached it very cautiously and nudged it with a stick to make sure the tiger was knocked out. They quickly hurled the net over it.
The tiger was carried on a stretcher and loaded onto the truck stationed close by. The crowd cheered and there was a sigh of relief on the faces of both people and the Forest Department staff who had spent the entire day watching the tiger in the pouring rain.
The doctor decided to take the tiger away from the crowd to examine and chose to keep the tiger under observation overnight.
The next morning came the news that the tiger did not make it and had breathed its last early in the morning. A post-mortem was scheduled and the NTCA asked Anand to attend as an observer and submit an individual report.
The body was inspected for injuries and observations made. The tiger was old. It’s canines and paws were worn out. The doctor suspected it to have fallen into a pit and struggled to get out. The body was cut open and its organs examined.
What took everyone by shock was the discovery of two porcupine quills pierced into its heart!
The post-mortem concluded with the doctor diagnosing multiple organ failure and the puncture wounds inflicted by the porcupine quills as the reason for the death of the old tiger. A funeral pyre was set up.
It was time for rituals when Bhuto brought in some milk, turmeric and salt.
Here was an animal finally at rest after all the years of roaming in the forest, striking terror in the heart of its prey.
I am glad he lived a full life in the wild, but for the one agonizing day when he met the humans.
(Shaktivel, Murali, Solomon, Bhuto, Muniyandi and others) Tamil Nadu Forest Department did a great job in attending to the tiger on both the days.
You can read a nice article by P.Jegannathan on the same here.