Photo and Video credits : Mahadevaswamy Gundlupet
Another conflict tiger in Bandipur captured as big carnivores be it tigers or leopards are now regularly spilling out of forests for want of space and territory. This is basically due to fragmentation of forests for linear structures and expansion of human settlements. With incidents of conflict now happening almost regularly, the state forest department said they would be writing to the Centre for setting up a ‘permanent panel’ which could deal with these conflict incidents and tackle any problem arising in such situations.
A tiger that had reportedly killed 20 livestock animals in April-May was captured on Tuesday morning in Karadur village near Kundakere Range of Bandipur Tiger Reserve [BTR]. The tiger, a sub adult was captured with the help of trained elephants after it was sighted near the village early morning. Sighting and following its pug marks, the tiger was darted but it was successful only in the fourth attempt. Earlier on Monday, a darting attempt done at 4.50 pm had failed when the tiger was found jumping from bush to bush in the same area.
Despite Bandipur having a good prey base, this very young tiger has been straying for some time now from the Kundakere range. According to the PCCF, the captured tiger was trying to establish its territory on a fringe part of this range where 50 per cent of the area fell within this Range while the rest fell outside it in the village. Here most of the private lands [no agriculture] have turned into forests and for tigers, it has become a good place to hide. And when the farmers used to tie their cattle in this area, it became a very easy prey for this tiger.
TIGER CONFLICT PANEL
Speaking to Green Minute, Sanjai Mohan, PCCF and Head of Forest Force said, “Tigers and leopards are regularly spilling out of protected areas and reserve forests for varying reasons and in each region, the reasons are different. We will write to the Centre for setting up a panel which will deal with conflict tigers and leopards as such incidents are a regular feature now. At least in case of tigers, we have been able to identify the right animal but in the case of leopards, this has become very difficult. Further, conflict incidents with leopards are more compared to tigers.”
According to wildlife activists from Bandipur, the solar fencing in Kundakere range is fully damaged. So, first the prey animals spilled over to human landscapes and this was followed by tigers in search of them. This is what has happened here and the killing of cattle by tigers is due to this and not because they are searching for any easy prey.
Confirming that the solar fencing was damaged in the Kundakere range, Sanjai Mohan said and it needs to be repaired as also needs maintenance every 2-3 years. He added, “Not just Kundakere, in many other places, the solar fences have to be repaired and it will be taken up soon.”
KUNDAKERE TIGER SAGA
There are three tigers in this range with two being residents while one female tiger has come from Moolehole. All the three tigers have been camera trapped. According to forest officials, camera trapping and pug marks clearly established the “Identity of the Right tiger” which was involved in the cattle killings for almost a month.
The past month, residents in these villages were in a complete state of panic as they were neither able to come out of their houses nor go out for their day to day needs. Although forest officials formed a Technical Committee to oversee the tiger identification and capture operations but it took them almost a month for capturing this tiger.
However, wildlife activists said when a tiger enters enter human landscape, a technical committee has to be formed as per NTCA standard operating procedures. But here it was formed pretty late only on April 30 that too after it was brought to the notice of the state forest minister. Further, the committee hardly met or did anything as combing operations were going on simultaneously with captive elephants requisitioned from the nearby elephant camp for the capture operations.
NTCA’S SOP NOT FOLLOWED
Activists added, “There has been no postmortem of cattle killings while the SOP prescribed by NTCA has not been followed properly. On Tuesday, darting was done in the evening when operations have to be wound up before 5 pm. There was no anesthetist in the team and if the animal had been darted successfully so late, it would have been difficult to find the darted tiger in the dark and it would have perished. Chances of tiger death are acute when darting is done in the evening.”
Further, despite so many cattle killings neither post mortem nor sample collection was done by the vets from the kill spots. This has to be done to get a lead on the identity of the tiger. Local activists alleged, “The concerned Vet is always stationed in Mysuru and never bothers to come to the spot, he only comes at the end while it is only assistants who do the darting. We are happy the conflict tiger has been captured but we hope from now onwards, all guidelines and SOP are followed while the formation of an exclusive panel for capture operations is indeed very welcome.”
The captured tiger will be released back into the wild soon but only after treatment for an injury it has sustained on its foreleg. Otherwise, the young big cat is hale and healthy.