It is the third time in the last decade that forest staff have acknowledged the presence of tigers in the Devarayandurga State Reserve Forest Area, near Tumkur. Though the news makes the people of Tumkur proud, tiger conservationists remain skeptical over the claims. According to the Karnataka Wildlife Warden, T.V.N. Murthy, who is stationed here, a tigress and its two cubs were sighted by forest staff in the Devarayandurga State Reserve Forest recently, Mr. Murthy told The Hindu here on Thursday that on the night of February 19, T.V. Srinivas, Assistant Conservator of Forests, was returning after a night patrol in the forest. He saw a tigress and her two cubs resting between two ancient structures of the Ganesh Temple point on the periphery of the forest area, mid-way between Belgumba and Oordigere survey areas. Mr. Murthy said even as Mr. Srinivas stopped the jeep and shown the headlights on the tigress, the cubs escaped the glare. The tigress, however, was unperturbed. Mr. Srinivas and his deputy, M.N. Naik, who has worked in tiger sanctuaries at Bhadra and Anasi (Dandeli), tried to take a closer look. But the tiger gracefully slipped away into the darkness. Mr. Naik said the tigress seemed tired. The cubs, Mr. Naik said, were about 18 inches tall. Mr. Murthy said a team of Forest officials inspected the area the next morning for pugmarks. Although the pugmarks of all the three animals were sighted, they could not be documented because the dry weather had made the imprints unclear. Previous sightings Mr. Murthy recollected his tryst with a tiger in the same forest in 2000 and said: "Presence of tigers in the Devarayandurga State Reserve Forest area is reconfirmed.' He and his three-year-old son had just marched past a galloping tiger. It was a hair-rising experience for both of them. In 1998, Forest staff had sighted a tiger. Pugmarks of adult tigers had been found a couple of times in different parts of the forest. Tiger conservationists will have to dwell on the issue to establish the fact, he added. Ameen Ahmed, office-bearer of Nisarga, a wildlife nature club, however, has another viewpoint. He said that a circus group may have released the tigress and her cubs from their captive livestock, into the forest. Tiger conservationists, he said, were highly skeptical over the presence of tigers in the Devarayandurga forest area. "Nature lovers visiting the beautiful mountain ranges of the forest are constantly haunted by the presence of tigers,' he said, and added: "The Devarayandurga tiger mystery stands still. Tiger conservationists cannot just wish it away,' Centenary year The Devarayandurga State Reserve Forest will enter into its centenary in a few days from now. There are complaints about tree-felling along the Belgumba-Oordigere Road that passes right through the forest. Environmentalists have been demanding that the road be abandoned. The action will help avoid pilferage of forest wealth and wildlife. There are also complaints of unauthorised granite mining activity near the forest. The Government, which is believed to be preparing to celebrate the centenary year of the forest, must pay attention to stop illegal mining activity in the vicinity of the forest. The Government has also a duty to retrieve the 75-acre plot that was given to Tumkur University from the buffer zone of the forest. Though the Supreme Court invalidated the grant of the plot, the varsity has not returned the land, even after the Government provided it alternate site measuring 320 acres on the south-eastern part of Tumkur.