The village of Mataina is close to the Pilibhit Tiger Reserve. Recently,a disturbing video came up on social media which showed villager beating a tigress to death with sticks. The video was accompanied by commentary in the background. The villagers were assaulting the tigress as she had attacked and injured a villager that morning. The shameful incident also showed officers from the Forest Department team had reached the spot after the assault, but the angry villagers would not allow the tigress to be taken to hospital until she died. The tigress was attacked with sticks, and had sustained fractures and injuries due to sharp edged weapons like spears on almost every part of her body. She had broken ribs. She was cremated after a post-mortem.

Pilibhit Magistrate Vaibhav Shrivastava said an inquiry would be made which would probe if sincere efforts were made by the Forest Department team to rescue the injured tigress, who was six years old. The tigress was not rescued and given medical aid even though the Forest Department officials had reached the spot, If over a period of nine hours, they were unable to rescue the big cat, it clearly showed their inability to protect wildlife in such situations. The sheer inability of the Forest Department officials reflects the absolute lack of integrity and dedication to duty in their failure to rescue the hapless, tigress, which was completely possible. They too are responsible for  the death of the tigress, having the authority and the means but failing to save her life.

The unimaginable cruelty and violence meted out to wild animals by humans is a blot on mankind, and our failure to perceive that wildlife is unable to survive as we are encroaching on their habitats. Urbanization and rapid development is driving humans closer to animal territory and if they attack, it is only because they do so in defense, or are hungry. It is common to see wild animals encroach on villages and even into cities, as they wander away from their habitat and find themselves too close to human habitation.

Awareness is the need of the hour to prevent such man-animal conflict that ends in tragedy. Human life is precious and should be secured at all costs. but so is wildlife that actually creates an environment for humans to survive. The atrocious and inhuman act of the villagers should be severely dealt with. The forest officials have identified 31 villagers and registered an FIR against them. There is no question of impunity for such a crime where the villagers had clear, murderous intent to kill the tigress, in a manner most vicious and cruel.

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