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Monday, February 13, 2012

Row over prowling tiger at CISH as shooter called in

Controversy has erupted over a tiger prowling on the Central Institute for Subtropical Horticulture (CISH) campus under Awadh Forest Division in Uttar Pradesh, barely 15 km from Lucknow. While the Forest Department and the Wildlife Trust of India (WTI) have failed to tranquilise it even after a month and a licensed shikari brought in to tackle it, National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA) has stepped into protect the wild cat. A letter written by Deputy Director, NTCA and addressed to the Chief Wildlife Warden has stated that under no circumstances the straying tiger should be killed. Ironically, the move of NTCA comes only after certain wildlife activists including the former Environment Minister Maneka Gandhi raised hue and cry over the shikari’s arrival. The letter from NTCA says that the guidelines specified by the authority in handling man-tiger conflict must be strictly adhered to. The strayed animal should be monitored unobtrusively for tranquilising by trained personnel involving the Wildlife Institute of India for subsequent release in the wild after due examination with respect to disabilities, it said. The four-year-old tiger strayed into the campus from the Pilibhit forest, near River Gomti that runs across the forest reaching Lucknow. The tiger moved through the thick vegetation on either side of the river and sneaked into the CISH campus. The tiger is now trapped as it is unable to cross the highway due to heavy human pressures and traffic. After a month when the combined team of the State Forest Department and WTI have failed to tranquilise the animal, licensed shooter Nawab Shafath Ali Khan has been brought from Hyderabad. According to Chief Wildlife Warden, Mohammad Ehsaan, it is not easy to tranquilise a tiger. “The tranquilising gun can at best operate within a range of 25 metres, the process can only happen during the day. Khan has been summoned to tranquilise the animal,” he added. Well-placed sources pointed out that Khan is a national- level shooter, who carries a .458 Winchester Magnum. In 2009, Khan had been invited by the Awadh Forest division to shoot a tigress, which had killed five persons. However, this time, there has not been any such incident of either human or even cattle killing so far. “Hence, one fails to understand why the shooter had to be brought in the first place?” sources said. Reacting to the whole episode Maneka Gandhi asked, “Why did the NTCA have to wait for a month to sprig into action?” She said the Uttar Pradesh Forest Department should exercise utmost caution in dealing with the situation and not try to eliminate such strayed animals.

Tiger foils tranquillising attempts

Efforts to tranquillise the tiger that strayed into the Central Institute of Sub Tropical Horticulture campus at Rehmankheda in the Awadh Forest Division of Lucknow proved futile, as it charged twice at the team tasked with sedating it. Hyderabadi shooter Nawab Shafat Ali Khan, was on the cow elephant, Roopkali, when the tiger charged at it on Friday, forcing the pachyderm to turn away in panic. After some time, when the elephant pressed ahead again, the feline came “dangerously close.” “Because of the high bushes, the view was not clear for using the tranquillising gun,” said Mr. Khan, who took charge of ‘Operation Rehmankheda Tiger.' There are thorny and lantana bushes 10-12 feet high on the CISTH campus, giving the tiger a natural cover. What is more, a nala flows through it. On Saturday, the elephant was not used, as the tiger moved 200-250 metres deeper into the bushes. A half-eaten buffalo calf was found. Officials waited through the day hoping the tiger would come out to gather the kill. “But it did not come near the machan or cages,” said Ashok Mishra, DFO, Awadh Forest Division. Four teams with as many tranquillising guns were on the job. No order to shoot has been issued as the tiger has not harmed any human. “We are hopeful of capturing it,” Mr. Mishra said.

Officials look for hurt tiger cub

Express News Service , The New Indian Express BANGALORE:� A 17-month-old male tiger cub was injured in a territorial fight near Somanakoppa in Bandipur National Park (BNP). The divisional forest officer of BNP was instructed to tranquillise the big cat immediately and treat its injuries before the wound worsens. “The safari on the� Somanakoppa side for tourists will be closed till the treatment is over,” said Principal Chief Conservator of Forests (Wildlife) B K Singh. He told Express that a tigress had given birth to four cubs - two males and two females - last year. The tigress was residing with its cubs inside the national park. Two days ago, a forest guard spotted a male tiger cub with injuries on its tail and other parts of the body. It is speculated the male cub got engaged in a territorial fight with another tiger and sustained injuries. Singh said there is an immediate need to treat the injured tiger else it would die of infection. Singh said, “The forest department is keen to protect the big cats across the state forests. The vigilance is upgraded by deploying more men in tiger core zones. This� helped� to reduce poaching cases in Karnataka.”