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[Representational Image]Reuters file

Authorities from the Pilibhit Tiger Reserve (PTR) suspect that local residents have been sending the older members of their families to the forest as prey for the tigers in an attempt to get some compensation from the government. 

Authorities at the PTR suspect that villagers sent their elders into the forest as tiger prey after which their bodies are shifted to fields to fake an attack in a bid to claim compensation from the government, the Times of India reported. The government does not provide compensation to villagers if their kin dies in the tiger reserve.

Kalim Athar of the Wildlife Crime Control Bureau (WCCB), a central government agency, arrived at the conclusion after having examined tiger attacks in the area. Incidents of tiger attacks on senior citizens have been on the rise with at least seven deaths having been reported in the proximity of the Mala forest range in February alone this year.

Athar, in his report submitted to the WCCB brass, examined tiger attacks in the vicinity of the reserve, checked individual cases, the location of the bodies and also the accounts of the villagers. "Bureau authorities have decided to refer the matter to the National Tiger Conservation Authority for further action," Athar told TOI.

However, villagers said that the elders of their families willingly took part in the whole affair. "They think that since they can't get resources from the forest, this is the only way their families can escape poverty," Jarnail Singh, a 60-year-old farmer, told TOI.

A 55-year-old woman was allegedly killed by a tiger in her field on July 1. Forest conservator VK Singh examined the site on Monday (July 3) and dismissed the claim saying that the woman's clothes, which were found at a different location, and tractor treads that led into and out of the forest indicated that the victim died 1.5 km inside the forest after which her body was relocated.