No trace of Silent Valley watcher

Kerala

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The search for a missing forest watcher continued for the third day in the Silent Valley National Park on Friday. Temporary watcher Rajan had gone missing on Tuesday night from his camp shed at Sirendhiri.

Although his chappal, dhoti and torch were recovered from within a few yards from the camp shed, no other trace of the 51-year-old watcher could be found. When a 100-member team comprising the Thunderbolt commandoes of the State police, forest guards and volunteers had searched on Thursday, about 120 personnel comprising forest officials and tribes-people conducted the combing on Friday.

The grass at the site from where Rajan’s dhoti was found had moved as though it was pulled by someone. But the forest officials were clueless as they could not find any other trace of the watcher.

“It still remains a mystery. Even if it is a wild animal attack as feared by some, his shirt should be found. We hope to resolve this mystery in a couple of days,” said Silent Valley Wildlife Warden S. Vinod.

It was suspected that Rajan might have been attacked by a tiger. “We never had any incident of a tiger attack in the Silent Valley so far, though tiger is present in the national park,” said Mr. Vinod.

The search team on Friday combed extensively within a one kilometer radius of the spot from where Rajan’s dhoti was found. Additional forest officials from Wayanad and civil defence personnel from Mannarkkad will join the search on Saturday.

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