Captured, tiger awaits freedom into wild

Captured, tiger awaits freedom into wild

The tiger, captured by the State forest department at Thitimathi in Virajpet taluk of Kodagu district,  in the first week of January 2014, will be released back into the wild. 

The big cat, which attacked cattle, is now being treated at Bannerghatta Biological Park for injuries.

The department feels that the tiger (named as Nagarhole_13 tiger_U304a after it was camera trapped) can sustain itself now. However, the habitat for the big cat is yet to be finalised.

 Principal Chief Conservator of Forests and Chief Wildlife Warden Vinay Luthra said the well-protected Bhadra Tiger Reserve with a good prey base will be a feasible option. “We want to release it into a place where there is a good prey base, but no tigers to compete with it,” he told Deccan Herald.

Luthra said the department has tracked the history of the tiger. “This tiger was born in Baraballe near Sunkadakattte and had moved on to Thithimathi where it was captured.

 It is trying to establish its territory for the last two years and has not been able to do so. It will be on the move until it finds a territory,” he explained.

The tiger, when captured on January 3, 2014, was believed to be 11 years old. 

However, the PCCF said the feline, though younger, will sustain itself, if  released into the wild. Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) Director for Science-Asia Dr K Ullas Karanth said the tiger was camera-trapped five times in 2013.

The animal, according Dr Karanth, is estimated to be around 2-3 years old, the time to move out of its natal range to long distance to establish its own home range. 

In this process, most tigers come in contact with human beings through cattle lifting as it happened with this animal. In his report submitted to the government, Karanth says a decision to release the animal into the wild should be taken after examination of its injuries and availability of suitable release site. 

He has also suggested that the tiger be released after being radio-collared as per the new guidelines of National Tiger Conservation Authority so that the department can track its movement.

This is the first time a tiger captured for cattle raid is being released back into forests. Earlier, a tiger, which had travelled 280 km from Bandipur to Esoor Village in Shikaripura taluk, Shimoga district, was captured and released into the Bhadra tiger reserve in May 2011, by the then Union Minister Jairam Ramesh. However, the animal died in territorial fight a few months later.

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