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Monday, December 5, 2011

DFO injured in tiger attack

PTI | 09:12 PM,Dec 02,2011 Patna, Dec 2 (PTI) A senior forest officer today suffered serious injuries when a tiger attacked him in Bihar's Saran district when he went to capture the animal which had escaped from a forest reserve, police sources said. District Forest Officer (DFO) Ganesh Kumar was attacked by the tiger and wounded severely while he was trying to catch the animal, the sources said. The injured DFO has been referred to the Patna Medical College Hospital for treatment, they said. Earlier in the day, the natives of Kushhalpur village spotted an adult tiger in their vicinity and raised an alarm before Kumar arrived there with some forest guards to catch the animal which attacked him before escaping in the forested area, the sources said. The tiger was said to have escaped from the Valmiki Nagar forest reserve and swam through the Gandak river on way to Vaishali district from where it crossed to the other side of the river in Saran district, they said. A team of forest officials with tranquilizers and a cage were camping in the village to catch the animal, the chief warden, wildlife, D.K Shukla said.

Bihar gets trained elephant to track tiger

Patna, Dec 4, DHNS: Two days after a tiger critically injured a district forest officer before escaping into the bushy tracts near Sonepur in North Bihar, the State’s Environment and Forest Department has sought the services of a trained elephant to locate the big cat. A request has been made to the National Tiger Conservation Authority seeking its assistance in locating the tiger. The animal has reportedly strayed from the Valmikinagar Tiger Reserve, on the Bihar-Nepal border, and is still moving in the area spread over the Saran and Vaishali districts on the banks of the Gandak river. “Going by the pug marks, the tiger appears to be moving along the bushy tracts of the Gandak basin. Since the island is full of long grass, it’s difficult to locate the big cat. Besides, it’s dangerous to move on foot,” said Principal Chief Conservator of Forest Basir Ahmad. Trained elephant “We have, therefore, requested the National Tiger Conservation Authority to provide us with some experts to capture the big cat. We have also sought the services of a trained elephant, which will help the team move around the area and locate the tiger,” said Ahmad. The National Tiger Conservation Authority has, however, reportedly told the Bihar Forest Department officials that the animal should be left on its own for the next few days, so that it can settle down as it may be in an agitated state of mind after its encounter with human beings. That the tiger, which strayed into the Sonepur area had injured District Forest Officer K Ganesh Kumar when he fired the first round of tranquilisers. The tiger, after injuring the district forest officer, escaped into the bushy tracts though it was surrounded. Sources said that chances of tiger having further encounters with human beings is low as the terrain, where it is supposed to be resting, is full of blue bulls. “Besides, tigers have a strong sense of home ranging. Therefore, it’s quite possible that if left on its own, the tiger may find its way to Valmikinagar Tiger Reserve,” said a forest department official citing the example of a tiger which had strayed from the Ranthambore reserve in Rajasthan to Mathura in Uttar Pradesh. “It returned to Ranthambore in the next few days,” said the official. But the Bihar government is not prepared to take any chances. It has deputed a strong team of forest officials, besides the Vaishali and Saran district administrative and police officers, near Sonepur to deal with any eventuality.

Fossils of world's oldest tiger found in China

FRIDAY, 02 DECEMBER 2011 19:57 PTI | WASHINGTON HITS: 728 Scientists have discovered what they believe is the oldest ever extinct species of tiger which lived in what is now northwestern China more than two million years ago. Although the skull of the ancient tiger, called Panthera zdanskyi, is smaller than most modern tigers, it appears very similar in shape, the researchers added. The jaguar-sized tiger, whose skull and jaw were found in northwestern China, is one of the largest living cats, a giant predator native to Asia, reaching up to 13 feet in length and weighing up to 300 kg. However, the beast's origins are under intense debate, with suggestions it arose in north-central China, southern China or northern Siberia, LiveScience reported. According to researchers, the tiger's fossils date back to 2.16 million to 2.55 million years, predating other known tiger fossils by up to a half-million years. This represents the oldest complete skull hitherto found of a pantherine cat -- the lineage that includes tigers and all other living big cats, said researcher Andrew Kitchener, principal curator of vertebrate biology at National Museums Scotland in Edinburgh. "The discovery of the identity of this fossil is vitally important for providing a greater understanding of the fossil history of big cats and the relationships between them." The fossils were unearthed in 2004 on the eastern slope of Longdan, a village in Gansu, China, giving it the informal name of the Longdan tiger. The skull of this extinct cat had robust, well-developed upper canine fangs and a relatively long nose, details typical of tigers. Although the size of the skull is comparable with that of the smallest females of living tiger subspecies, its overall shape suggests it belonged to a male, the researchers detailed in the journal PLoS ONE. Indeed, despite about two million years of separation, the skull of the Longdan tiger appears surprisingly similar to that of modern tigers, the researchers said. "It seems likely that this tiger's diet would have been similar to that of today's and would have included ungulates such as deer and pigs," Kitchener said. The researchers suggest this extinct cat was a sister species to the modern tiger. Their analysis argues that the tiger lineage developed features of its skull and upper teeth early on, while its lower jaw and teeth evolved at a different rate. A similar pattern of "mosaic evolution" is seen in the cheetah lineage, they noted. "It will be interesting to see whether further fossil big cats are discovered in China and elsewhere, which expand our knowledge of the distribution of this species and fill in more gaps in the tiger's fossil history," Kitchener said. "Confirming a more precise dating of Panthera zdanskyi would also be invaluable for understanding its position in the tiger's evolutionary timescale."