Multiple sightings of ‘tigers' generated great fear in locality
The residents of Fulkuchi village, under Munshiganj district's Lohajang upazila, went through a very unlikely experience recently when they sighted two tigers in the area.
This left the locals dumbfounded with feelings of both fear and excitement.
The incidents of these multiple sightings left the concerned authorities and forest department officials scratching their heads, as everybody started to speculate where the tigers came from.
According to the locals, the two "tigers" were first seen on August 21.
The locals then chased the "tigers" to a nearby forest.
But they were again seen on Saturday, and this time one of the locals named Md Shanto was able to take some photographs of the much feared "tigers" which went viral on Facebook.
These sightings caused great fear among the locals, forcing people not to venture out of their homes after sunset.
Addressing their fears, Lohajong Upazila Nirbahi Officer (UNO) Md Kabirul Islam visited the spot of the incident.
In order to ensure the security of the residents of Fulkuchi village, he deployed additional police force in the area and advised the locals not to go out alone at night.
Dhaka Tribune was able to collect the photos taken by one of the locals and sent them to Jahangirnagar University professor and an expert on tigers, Dr Monirul H Khan to shed light on the incident and solve the mystery of the sightings.
After thoroughly analyzing the photos, he came to the conclusion that these are not "tigers". "In fact these are fishing cats [scientific name: Felis viverrina]. These are more or less seen all across the country, specially near wetlands.
"They go out hunting when it’s dark. Various kinds of fish, frogs, crabs, rats, birds and etc. are their primary source of food. I think the lack of food is responsible for the arrival of the two fishing cats to the village."
"There is no need to be afraid of this animal. They do not attack human beings," he added.
Echoing the same, Lohajang UNO Kabirul said: "Forest department officials visited the spot where the sightings took place. After analyzing the pictures, they have confirmed that the suspected 'tigers' are in fact fishing cats.
"The locals thought they were cheetah tigers because of the size of the sighted fishing cats."
"Police have been deployed in the village to avoid panic among the local people. They also have been advised to be careful when they are outside their homes."