A tiger has been on the loose in Apaseo el Grande, Guanajuato, since December, but the mayor waited until Saturday to issue a warning.
José Luis Ontiveros Usabiaga wrote on social media to confirm the predator was at large near the town, 115 kilometers southeast of Guanajuato city.
“After a thorough analysis, gathering information and collecting the testimonies of the population of the ejidos [communal lands] and communities of Ojo de Agua, Rancho Viejo and Tierra Blanca, we can confirm the presence of a tiger,” he said.
Ontiveros said 16 cattle had been attacked and told people to watch their children, remain in populated areas and keep their livestock safe. The communities that are on alert are Comonfort, Pichacho, Potrero and Rosales.
People first reported the presence of an animal attacking their livestock in December, but the mayor said he wanted clear evidence before putting out a warning. “We decided not to communicate until we saw a footprint and an animal. We wanted to act prudently and responsibly,” he said.
The government of Apaseo el Grande has bought a drone to track down the feline and requested the help of the federal environmental protection agency Profepa and the Environment Ministry to capture it. A Guanajuato animal protection group, Conexión Animal, provided a veterinarian with knowledge of tigers along with cages and tranquilizing darts. Ontiveros said he hoped the vet would help determine how the cattle died and locate the tiger.
The mayor said the danger was particularly acute for young children who help out on ranches. “The children in those communities are sent to look after the livestock … they are children between seven and 10 years old. It is important that they know whether there is … a tiger …” he said.
The mayor also confirmed that viral videos of a tiger claiming to show the feline in question, were not to be trusted. “The images that allude to pet cats or smaller felines do not correspond to this matter and have been generated to create alarm and panic,” he said.
This is not the first time a tiger has caught the public’s attention: in November, a Bengal tiger was captured near the Tapalpa-Atemajac highway in Jalisco, and drivers stopped to take its photograph, the newspaper Milenio reported.
With reports from Milenio