T1 cubs killing bait, but dept cautious on capture

Nagpur: After the departure of problem tigress T1 of Pandharkawda, the forest department is treading cautiously on capture of her two cubs, which have localized in Anji dam area.
T1 was gunned down by shooter Asghar Ali Khan on November 2 night. Since then, the cubs had gone “missing” and were in news after they had killed a pony kept as bait on November 19.

The orphaned cubs have killed four goats kept as bait in last eight days. However, forest officials are now cautious and not chasing the cubs, but only monitoring them before any capture decision.

In the absence of Hyderabad-based sharp shooter Shafath Ali Khan, things have been streamlined and 4-5 teams have been constituted under single command of deputy conservator KM Abharna.

According to official sources, based on the ranging pattern of T1 and cubs, the entire area has been divided into 4-5 parts and efforts are being made to map the movement of cubs through camera traps, indirect signs, pug impression pads (PIPs), kill reports etc.

“The teams constituted are involved in thorough scanning of all parts simultaneously to localize the cubs without disturbing them. Options have been kept open to rope in best tiger trackers from MP Pench for hand-holding of local trackers. Inputs from field director Vikram Singh Parihar and wildlife vet Akhilesh Mishra are also being taken,” said forest officials.

The trackers are collecting scat samples and marking it with GPS locations not only for movement monitoring but also to identify prey species in the diet of the cubs. “Night operation is being avoided for now and no members other than team members constituted by deputy conservator are being allowed to venture in the area occupied by the cubs,” officials said.

After a marathon meeting between PCCF (wildlife), NTCA, WII, and FDCM and territorial officials and wildlife vets at Pandharkawda on November 17, the National Tiger Conservation Authority has asked to analyze tiger signs data every day and prioritize the operation and strategy next day.

Based on the data analysis, the NTCA has asked officials to place baits at suitable locations mimicking the nature and allow the cubs to habituate naturally. Once habituated, trap cages will be placed along with baits to lure the cubs. “Two trap cages camouflaged with bushes have already been laid a couple of days ago. Camera traps have also been installed at these places,” said officials.

In the meanwhile, forest officials have also kept the option open to invite trained elephant teams from Pench Tiger Reserve in Madhya Pradesh and their vets to capture the cubs.

Interestingly, the NTCA has asked not to use Calvin Klein perfume, tiger urine, playing back of audio calls, to lure the cubs. It was due to the use of urine and perfume, T1 had localized in Borati and shooter Asghar Ali Khan took advantage of the situation to kill the tigress.

Considering the lapses in T1 case, the NTCA has asked to stick to all its advisories and SOPs strictly. Despite the SOP saying that media should be briefed about the operation from time-to-time, the CCF Yavatmal PG Rahurkar did not respond to repeated calls on the issue.

Download The Times of India for Latest .

Receive News & Ratings Via Email - Enter your email address below to receive a concise daily summary of the latest news and analysts' ratings with our FREE daily email newsletter.