The new king of Sariska is doing fine. But he is, perhaps, being pampered too much for his own good.
Movements of the four-year-old tiger from Ranthambhore, tracked a day after his relocation, showed no sign of hangover from the drugs pumped into him yesterday. Within hours of walking inside the enclosure, he made a kill last night. Not that he had to work hard — the forest staff obliged their VIP guest with live bait.
But the catch lies in the nature of the bait. Since laws don’t permit the forest staff to capture wild animals to bait the tiger, they have settled for goats. But if the tiger gets used to his new diet, he is likely to target local livestock once he is allowed to roam free.
The field officials are in a dilemma. They agree that the tiger must be allowed to walk free as soon as possible. But how soon is soon enough? The big cat was put inside the enclosure to curb his natural honing tendency in this case, straying in search of his lost territory in Ranthambhore.
National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA) chief Dr Rajesh Gopal, it seems, has decided to take a call. “Feeding a tiger for too long will affect its natural instincts. We have to take a chance. If the animal strays, the radio-collar is there for monitoring its movements,” he said.
According to sources, NTCA will send a directive on Monday asking the state forest department to move the tiger out of the
enclosure by Wednesday.
Meanwhile, the Centre has cleared Rs 19.2 crore to expedite the relocation of two Sariska villages. The money will be released soon and will benefit more than 200 families of Umri and Kankwari.
Confirming this, Dr Gopal said: “Shifting these two villages will ensure a good stretch of undisturbed tiger territory in Sariska. Now that the first tiger is in, the state forest department must honour its commitment for a better habitat and a stricter protection regime. Relocation of villages and regulation of pilgrim traffic are the priorities.”
Mazoomdaar is an independent journalist. He broke the Sariska story in January 2005.