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Maharashtra: Desperate foresters may use top international perfume to lure tigress

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Vidarbha, Oct 3: The first victim was an older woman, discovered face down in a cotton field with huge claw marks dug into her back. The next was an older male farmer, his left leg completely torn off.

After the first two deaths, the forest department had decided to capture the tigress and her cubs but the third death and subsequent public anger forced a rethink.

Representational Image

In mid-August, the mauled body of a cattle herder, was found near a rural highway. He was victim No. 12.

The killings have gone on for more than two years, sowing panic in the hills around Pandharkawada, a town in central India.

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DNA tests, camera traps, pugmarks - tiger footprints - have pinned at least 13 human killings on a single, 5-year-old tigress that seems to have developed a taste for human flesh and has evaded capture several times.

The forest department's plans, which have largely centred around attempting to lure the tigress with bait, have proved futile. Desperate forest officials are now mulling the usage of a Calvin Klein brand of international perfume to lure the elusive T1 of Pandharkawada.

This perfume is used world over to attract the big cats and the forest department now mulls its use to lure and restrict the big cat to a small area.

The perfume experiment has been successfully conducted in the US as well as in India. The brand of scent, which is popular among men, costs between Rs 3,500 and 4,500 per 120 ml bottle.

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The idea has its genesis in a discovery in New York that has since aided biologists studying big cats globally. In 2010, Wildlife Conservation Society's Bronx Zoo in New York was trying to find new ways to get cheetahs in front of camera traps.

Of the 24 fragrances which were experimented with, scientists found that spraying the Obsession For Men near them drew the cats for longer than other scents.

Since then, researchers have also used the fragrances in Guatemala, where scientists were able to replicate the success to track jaguars and even record the mating rituals of the notoriously elusive big cats.

Telangana officials too are contemplating to use this perfume in Mancherial district where a tigress, K4, is moving around with a wire snare attached to its body.

Like T1, K4 too is elusive. Dr Prayag was part of the K4 rescue operation but has been shunted out on administrative grounds.

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Thirteen people have been killed, not all by T1 of Pandharkawda (Yavatmal district), between June 2016 and August this year in Maharashtra.

Since 2010, over 330 people have died in the state due to conflict, primarily from tiger and leopard attacks, officials said.

But until last year, this was a problem limited to the areas around the Tadoba Andhari Tiger Reserve (TATR) in Chandrapur district. Now man-tiger conflict has spread to other parts of Vidarbha.

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