T-4 dies during rescue operation in Maharashtra’s Yavatmal
An injured adult tigress, aged between seven and eight, died on Sunday at the Tipeshwar Wildlife Sanctuary in Yavatmal district after forest officials tranquillised it in an attempt to rescue her. The animal’s post-mortem report released on Monday said the impact of the tranquilliser and an earlier injury could have caused her death.
The tigress, named T-4, was injured in the neck by a nylon wire snare in September 2017. T-4, since then, had remained elusive and was spotted again on May 5, 2018. “Her neck injury worsened over time,” said Sunil Limaye, additional principal chief conservator of forest, Nagpur. “On Sunday evening, she was spotted again and our divisional forest officer decided to tranquillise and rescue her.”
Limaye said the tigress was tranquillised at 6.30pm on Sunday near the Sunna area of the sanctuary and declared dead at 8pm.
This makes it the sixth tiger death in Maharashtra this year, according to the National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA). Incidentally, this was the same district where the alleged maneater tigress T1 was shot by privately-hired hunters in November 2018.
A forest officer from Pandharkawada division, on condition of anonymity, said the tranquilliser dose could have been higher than required. “When the vet fired the dart, he should have assessed the body weight of the animal before preparing the drug. This was not done. Senior forest officers were not present during the operation.”
Limaye, however, said district and range forest officers were present during the operation.
Ravikiran Govekar, Pench tiger reserve field director and chief conservator of forest, Tipeshwar Wildlife Sanctuary, said T-4’s post-mortem report revealed the snare injury was quite deep and maggots had formed around the tigress’ neck. “She succumbed to her injuries after the impact of the tranquillisation and died soon after. The veterinarians will submit a detailed report,” he said.
“Healthy tigers can withstand the impact of tranquillising. It is possible the dosage was high and the tigress did not survive,” said Nitin Desai, director (central India), Wildlife Protection Society of India.
Sarita Subramaniam, petitioning against the death of tigress T-1 in the Bombay high court said, “The forest department is treating tigers as guinea pigs without practising proper dosage during darting or providing proper expertise in such cases.”