Tiger kills mahout, injures several

Jorhat, Jan. 16: A mahout died in an attack by a Royal Bengal Tiger while several forest personnel and veterinary doctors were injured in Rongagora village outside Orang National Park in Assam's Darrang district this afternoon after a mob disrupted attempts by forest and park staff to tranquillise the big cat which had strayed out of the park.

A range officer of the park, Chakrapani Rai, was reported "missing" till this evening and his mobile phone was found switched off.

Forest and park officials called off their attempt to chase the tiger back to the park after local resi- dents attacked the forest staff, forest protection force men, damaged vehicles of the department and even attacked one of the veterinarians.

The tiger had strayed out of the Bhabapur area of the park in the wee hours today and attacked two persons of Rongagora village, who were later shifted to the Guwahati Medical College and Hospital. They were identified as Moinul Haque Mondol and Umar Ali. This prompted the villagers to attack the forest personnel.

The mahout, Ohid Ali, 43, succumbed to injuries at the Mangaldoi government district hospital.

Park divisional forest officer Sushil Kumar Daila told The Telegraph that the situation had worsened in the evening. The mahout was on the ground assisting forest staff when the tiger attacked him.

The DFO said, "It was a terrible situation for us. As we tried to tranquillise the wild animal with two vets ' A. Talukdar and M.L. Smith ' brought from Guwahati, people not only interrupted but attacked our men and damaged our vehicles," Daila said.

Daila also blamed the local administration and police for their failure to control the crowd during the several attempts to dart the tiger.

"Had the administration and the police taken proper steps to control the mob then we could have succeeded in immobilising the animal," the DFO said.

He said he has informed all concerned higher-ups about today's situation.

The tiger was still roaming in nearby areas of the village but forest staff were unwilling to chase it, fearing attacks by the villagers.

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