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Thursday, April 26, 2012

Runaway tiger caged after gruelling 108 days

Published: Thursday, Apr 26, 2012, 7:57 IST By Deepak Gidwani | Place: Lucknow | Agency: DNA Finally, after a grueling exercise lasting as many as 108 days which involved over two dozen forest officers, experts and employees, the runaway tiger was tranqulised and caught in the wee hours of Wednesday. The tiger, a healthy male of about four years, had strayed from its habitat about 250km from here, and settled down in the 400-acre farm of the Central Subtropical Horticulture Institute of the Union agriculture ministry at Rahmankheda, about 15km from Lucknow. The foresters had tried all the tricks in their bag, but the big cat managed to evade arrest for over three months. At one point of time, the forest department had totally given up hope of caging it, and was, in fact, coming around to the idea of developing a safari around it. Interestingly, the tiger had got followers in several countries as one avid wildlifer put it on a social networking site aptly naming it ‘Badshah’ (king). With the capture of the tiger, the terrified villagers living around the area as well as the forest department officials have heaved a sigh of relief. “It is indeed a big achievement for us to catch the tiger after such a long time without any harm to the human population,” said Ashok Mishra, Lucknow division forest officer (DFO). “It is perhaps a record of its own kind anywhere in the world,” he added. The operation started at first light around 4am, and the tiger was brought down with a dart around 6.30am. Another DFO PP Singh, a tiger expert who planned the entire operation, said the catch was the result of accurate planning. First, over the past few days, the tiger was localised to a particular patch, a ‘sheesham’ thicket, in the forest where there was dense foliage. This area was regularly watered to keep it cool, offering the tiger a perfect hideout. A water body near the area completed the picture. When the tiger started roaming this area frequently, the foresters tied a buffalo at this spot on Monday. As expected, the tiger made the kill, and the foresters let it relish the prey for one night. “The tiger did not venture far this time as water was also available nearby. The idea was to take advantage of the situation in which the tiger eats and drinks water more than usual due to no disturbance. This makes the cat slow and lazy,” explains PP Singh. Early on Wednesday morning, the foresters’ party mounted on three elephants surrounded the area. Dr Utkarsh Shukla, a vet and a darting expert, managed to get a clear hit on his second shot as the tiger moved towards his elephant. Soon, a huge crowd of villagers reached the spot to get a glimpse of the beast which had terrified them. The foresters managed to whisk it away to the Dudhwa National Park where it would be rehabilitated.

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