‘Problem’ tigress caught from Melghat, sent to rescue centre in Nagpur
Forest officials said the tigress, E1, was transported to the Gorewada Rescue Centre (Zoo) in Nagpur on Monday and will remain there till a decision is taken on whether to release her back in the wild.Updated: Sep 04, 2019 10:52 IST
The Maharashtra forest department on Sunday captured a three-year-old tigress from the buffer area of Melghat Tiger Reserve (MTR). The tigress, who has killed two people in the past four months, was sent to a rescue centre in Nagpur.
Forest officials said the tigress, E1, was transported to the Gorewada Rescue Centre (Zoo) in Nagpur on Monday and will remain there till a decision is taken on whether to release her back in the wild.
Originally from Ekara forest zone, Brahmapuri in Chandrapur district, E1 was one of three tigers radio-collared from by the Wildlife Institute of India (WII), Dehradun, between January and February, to study tiger dispersal patterns and changes in habitat. E1 had killed a villager in the north Brahmapuri range, which is near human settlements, in May. She is also suspected of another killing and was reported to have been seen in the vicinity, said forest officials.
“Following this, she was captured on May 31 and kept in isolation in Gorewada for over three weeks,” said Nitin Kakodkar, principal chief conservator of forest (wildlife). “Subsequently, the animal was translocated by the forest department to the core area of MTR in Amravati district on July 1.”
A day after being relocated, E1 moved closer to the buffer area and is suspected to have attacked a seven-year-old girl in Kekdakheda village. “In all, the tigress is responsible for killing 26 cattle and wild animals, mostly along the periphery of MTR,” said another forest officer.
Most recently, a 45-year-old farmer was attacked and killed on his farm in Dadra village in MTR’s periphery last Friday night, and another man was left injured in the incident. “Residents of 10 villages feared for their life following such attacks and we needed to act for their safety,” said the forest officer from MTR.
Kakodkar said the best option was to keep the tiger at the rescue centre.“For me the easiest option is to cage her in the rescue centre. There are no plans of immediate release. We will consult WII scientists for their view,” said Nitin Kakodkar, principal chief conservator of forest (wildlife).
The rescue operation was carried out by a team of 30 officials including rapid rescue teams and four veterinary officers. WII has been asked to study E1’s radio collaring data over the past few months to analyse her movement and the pattern of kills, to assess whether she can be released in the wild again.
“We need to see whether there is a repetitive pattern of at least 10 tigers doing the same thing based on radio-collar studies. Do we really want tigers outside protected areas to breed, which will have similar repercussions as E1,” said Bilal Habib, scientist from Wildlife Institute of India, Dehradun.
Translocation of tigers an inaccurate method? WII scientists to study pattern
Bilal Habib, scientist from Wildlife Institute of India, Dehradun highlighted that E1 was born in a human dominated landscape, she attacked one person when she became a sub adult. Following her translocation to Melghat’s core area, she still made her way to the periphery where similar conflict took place. “This is just one example as of now. We need to see whether there is a repetitive pattern of at least 10 tigers doing the same thing based on radio-collar studies. Then we will need to change the way we are thinking. Do we really want tigers outside protected areas to breed, which will have similar repercussions as E1. This is a big challenge and we have no answers yet,” said Habib.
Prior to this incident, four other tigers in Maharashtra which were translocated from their original territory to new ones since 2012 did not survive raising questions about the methodology being used by the department.
“We have to go by animal to animal and case wise basis before coming to any conclusion,” said Nitin Kakodkar, principal chief conservator of forest (wildlife).