BANGALORE ~ This is not something that falls into the ambit of a legistlative assembly’s speaker’s duties, but that didn't really matter to Karnataka Assembly Speaker KG Bopaiah. He has sought permission to shoot dead a tiger that has developed a taste for cattle in his constituency.
The tiger has so far accounted for 24 cattlekills in Virajpet, in southern Coorg (or Kodagu, as it is now called), which is Bopaiah’s constituency. It maps its prey after raiding cattlesheds in villages. When Bopaiah visited the affected areas recently, villagers requested him to obtain a forest department sanction to shoot the beast. “There is a provision in the Wildlife Act (Rule 11-A) to kill any endangered animal if it attacks humans or posses a threat to human life. They can invoke it,” he was quoted as saying.
Bopaiah, a Coorgi elected on a PJP ticket belongs to a community known for its hunting exploits, but which has since the late 1970s made peace with wild animals and turned conservationist. The state’s forest department was surprised to receive such a request from the Speaker, but didn't have to think much to deny it. “We have turned down permission to shoot the tiger dead. We have made all arrangements to capture it alive,” says state Principal Chief Conservator of Forest, Wildlife, BK Singh.
Wildlife enthusiasts are also staunchly opposed to the killing since the tiger has not yet turned into a maneater. They are not very pleased with Bopaiah. After the Speaker’s suggestion, there has been an angry flow of letters in newspapers and lively exchanges on social networking sites to save the tiger. “Tranquilise and relocate it, don't kill and give our country a bad name,” says one Tweeter, Amit.▪