In a shocking revelation, a media report has said that residents of villages bordering the Pilibhit Tiger Reserve (PTR) are suspected of sending elder members of their families into the forest as tiger prey. According to the Times of India, villagers first send their elderlies into the reserve for tigers to prey on them, and then relocate their dead bodies to fields, to simulate attacks and subsequently claim lakhs in compensation from the government.
The reason behind shifting the bodies to fields is that villagers are not entitled to compensation if their kin die in the reserve, the report said.
Since February 16, there has been a surge in fatal tiger attacks on the elderly, with as many as seven deaths reported in the proximity of the Mala forest range.
Suspicion grew when Kalim athar of the Wildlife Crime Control Bureau (WCCB), a central government agency, examined the tiger attacks in the vicinity of the PTR. He arrived at the conclusion after looking into individual cases, the location of the bodies, and the accounts of locals.
He has already submitted his report to the WCCB brass. “Bureau authorities have decided to refer the matter to the National Tiger Conservation Authority for further action,” Athar was quoted by Times of India as saying.
Shockingly, the report cited locals as saying that their family members were doing this willingly. “They think that since they can't get resources from the forest, this is the only way their families can escape poverty,” said 60-year-old farmer Jarnail Singh.
On July 1, it was alleged that a 55-year-old woman had been killed by a tiger in her field. However, the woman’s clothes and tractor treads leading in and out of a forest nearby made it evident that she died 1.5 km inside the forest, and her body was relocated.