The operation launched on Thursday by the MP state forest department to catch tiger T1 in Kaliasote-Kerwa area of Bhopal resumed on Friday morning, with over 200 officials involved in the effort.
The operation was called off later in the day as the tiger remained untraceable.
Movement of people on approach roads towards Kaliasote-Kerwa area was restricted by the police personnel for security reasons.
As efforts by the forest department have turned up empty, there is still no clarity on whether the tiger, if captured, would be sent to Panna Tiger Reserve or Satpuda Tiger Reserve, or the officials would just radio collar it and release it back into its habitat.
Speaking to HT, divisional forest officer (DFO) Bhopal AK Singh said they called off the operation as the tiger remained untraceable. “May be it has gone deep into the forest due to the bursting of crackers in the city and its outskirts during Diwali time,” he said.
Singh said the department had not yet decided whether to shift the tigers or not. “But in the meantime, we want to keep a tab on their movement by radio collaring them,” he said.
Singh added that tigers straying close to residential areas in the city was because around six tigers, including younger ones had come out of Ratapani wildlife sanctuary to establish new territories.
“According to the last tiger census, there were around 15 to 19 tigers in Ratapani. Cubs are not included (in the census). So, with the inclusion of six to seven young tigers, we have around 21 to 25 tigers in total. This is perhaps leading to spill over from the Ratapani sanctuary,” he said.
Meanwhile, wildlife activist Ajay Dubey, who had gone to Kaliasote-Kerwa to see how the operation was being conducted, told HT that more than 200 men searching for just one tiger was very traumatising to the wild cat.
“This tiger called T1 is neither a man-eater nor has it entered settlements in Bhopal. It is not even injured. Then why is the forest department after it? That too when the high court will hear the matter regarding tiger movement near Bhopal on November 16,” he said, stressing that the duty of the forest department was to make tiger habitat safe and identify encroachments.