Ustad, a tiger who was secretly moved to captivity last week after he killed a forest guard in Ranthambore, is settling in and has shown no signs of unease, a forest official said on Thursday, allaying concerns that the big cat could die of starvation because he was not eating.
The eight-year-old tiger, one of the star attractions of Ranthambore National Park, was tranquilised and shifted by road to Sajjangarh Biological Park in Udaipur, sparking protests from wildlife activists who said the big cat had been wrongly accused.
The controversial decision came after the tiger, officially known as number T-24,
the forest guard on May 8, apparently his fourth killing in Ranthambore, one of the country’s most visited parks.
Park authorities initially said the tiger had refused to feed on dead meat in captivity, forcing them to try a ‘live bait’ to avoid complications stemming from possible prolonged starvation.
But the chief conservator of forests at Udaipur, Rahul Bhatnagar, said Ustad was acclimatising to his new environment. He added that a six-member team of two veterinarians, foresters and NGO representatives was monitoring the tiger.
“The tiger is being fed buffalo meat and has not shown any signs of unease so far,” said Bhatnagar. “We have installed CCTV cameras to monitor the big cat so human disturbance is minimised.”
As calls to brand Ustad a man-eater grew, outraged wildlife experts slammed his relocation, saying it was made without any scientific probe.
But tiger expert Valmik Thapar said relocating Ustad was the best option as he was the “most dangerous tiger” he had ever encountered.
Despite calls to move the tiger to a zoo, the Supreme Court said he would not be moved from Sajjangarh Biological Park until the Rajasthan High Court took a decision. The status quo order was given on a petition by Pune-based tiger lover Chandra Bhal Singh against the relocation of the animal from its original reserve.