Forest dept doubles down in search of tigress, cubs

Separate operations are currently on in Balapur and Sindewahi ranges
The massive search operation for Jai -considered to be one of the biggest male tigers in Asia -might have ended in conclusively. However, now, in two separate search operations by the forest department -one where three cubs are missing after their mother was found dead in Chandrapur and the other where the mother and siblings of a frail, month-old cub need to be found -department officials are leaving no stone unturned.“There are around 100 people searching for the three cubs, whose mother was found dead on September 4 due to multiple organ failure.The body has been sent for examination to find the exact cause of death.We’re looking for the cubs to ensure they do not starve,“ said Sudhakar Dole, general manager of the Forest Development Corporation of Maharashtra Ltd, under whose jurisdiction the cubs in question are. He added that after they are found, the cubs will be monitored and taken into custody if required.

The search for the cubs is on in Balapur range and the cubs were once seen last week in a healthy state. They are only five to six months old, which means they might not be ready for combat or be able to hunt yet. In such circumstances, there is a chance they might be attacked by other male tigers or could starve.

In June this year, two female tigresses, found orphaned eight years ago, were transferred to Sanjay Gandhi National Park in Borivali from the Pench Tiger Reserve as they did not seem to adapt to the wilderness despite their advanced years. At the time, some environmentalists were of the opinion that if the intervention to reintroduce the tigers into the wilderness is tried at a younger age, chances of success are greater. In fact, the department has also formed a special committee to develop methods of relocation to the wilderness.

“There are heavy rains which are causing a problem with the search operations as paw marks are being washed away. All the areas are being combed by students, environmentalists and the forest department but we have had no luck so far. Now, we are trying to imitate tigress sounds through a sound system to attract the cubs,“ said Mahendra Chavan, a vet eran environmentalist and honorary wildlife warden of Gadchiroli.

This is the first time that two search operations are going on simultaneously in two ranges of such close proximity. The other operation is being carried out in Sindewahi range. Last week, a frail tiger cub, less than a month old, was rescued by the forest department. Despite all efforts, the cub succumbed to its frailness. Now, a combing operation is being taken up to search for its mother and see if there are any other cubs.

“We have set up at least 40 to 50 camera traps. In addition, we have our field staff involved in combing operations. Once they are found, we will monitor the situation and then take action as per the situation based on standard operating procedures,“ said Ashish Thakre, deputy conservator of forests.

Source : TOI