The two big cats that were released out of their enclosures two weeks ago in Sariska have finally hunted down their first wild prey.
Monitoring teams have found the remains of a Sambar and a fawn hunted by the tigress on last Friday. Though the field staff had no such luck with the kills made by the tiger, the fact that he did not go for any goat bait for some days indicated that he too might have gone for a hard-earned change of taste.
Since the two big cats were shifted to the Sariska enclosures from Ranthambhore three weeks back, they were on a goat diet. Even after the tigers were let out of the enclosures, the forest authorities continued with the live goat baits so that the animals didn’t move too far in search of food. Many were worried that being on a goat diet for too long might make the animals selectively target livestock in the surrounding villages and trigger a human-animal conflict.
“Yes, it’s great news that the tigers have made wild kills. They continue to be in fine health and are settling down. They have not come face to face yet and their territories do not overlap,” confirmed P. S. Somshekhar, Field Director, Sariska. While both animals have apparently settled down in the Core One — easily the best forest stretch in Sariska — since their release outside the enclosures, they have given quite a few anxious moments to the monitoring teams of scientists from the Dehradun-based Wildlife Institute of India (WII) and the local forest staff.
Last week, the tigress moved close to the edge of the forest near Naldeshwar before moving back on her own. Yesterday, she ventured till the state highway (SH-13) near Kushalgarh but, fortunately, did not cross over. Under close watch, she has not gone too far back inside the forest till this evening.
“It is natural that the big cats will walk in all directions as they are trying to explore the forest before curving out their territories,” said Dr Rajesh Gopal, chief of National Tiger Conservation Authority.
Mazoomdaar is an independent journalist