Forest department staff attempting to locate a tigress and cub that are to be radio collared and sent to Satpura tiger reserve encountered a young male tiger. The young male charged at the elephants and did not give an opportunity to the staff to tranquilise it.
Sources said that on Saturday, the staff while trying to locate a tigress and cub near the bait that was killed by a carnivore during the intervening night of Thursday and Friday, found a male tiger there.
Although the plan was to tranquilise the tigress and cub, forest department officials decided to tranquilise the young male tiger too.
The tiger was extremely aggressive, charged the elephants and the teams had to retreat. Teams also found that the tiger had killed four buffaloes tied as bait by the forest department staff.
The tiger ate a little from each buffalo that were tied at a distance of 800 metres from each other in the Kerwa forests.
The teams are now managing with four elephants as one elephant had died while the other elephant brought from Satpura tiger reserve has been sent back.
The teams are waiting for two more elephants to come from Kanha so that the operation could resume with six elephants. Meanwhile, the forest department is divided over the operation to tranquilise and shift the tigers too.
While a section in the department feels that the tigers should be shifted as monitoring them is difficult and they stand the risk of getting killed, another section feels since the Kerwa forests have traditionally been a tiger-bearing area, it is only a matter of time before another tiger would take over the territory if the present ones are shifted.
The entire tranquilising and radio collaring process is also fraught with risks. Unlike national parks where tigers have some human imprinting and come within the 15-20 range of the tranquiliser gun, the tigers in Kerwa are completely wild.
There is a risk of the tiger being hit by a tranquiliser dart and then running away, making it almost impossible for the forest department teams to locate it.
Once darted, the tiger takes about 20-30 minutes to become unconscious and can’t be left unattended as it could complicate the operation even resulting in mortality of the tiger.