Snapshots of the tiger’s capture and eventual release back to the wild
Dudhwa Tiger Reserve, March 9, 2018: A young male tiger that had been captured by the Uttar Pradesh (UP) Forest Department four days ago was released back into the wild this morning, in an operation orchestrated by the forest department with the assistance of the Wildlife Trust of India (WTI) and the World Wide Fund For Nature (WWF-India).
Since the young male tiger had no injuries or deformities, it was deemed an ideal candidate for rehabilitation into the wild
The tiger had killed a 22-year-old woman named Girija Devi in the agricultural fields of Chandupur (Beer Kheda) village in the Madhotanda area of Puranpur tehsil, adjoining the Mala Range of Pilibhit Tiger Reserve. It was tranquilised and captured by a team from the forest department on March 5 at around 11:30am. “The tiger was a young male, around one to four years old as judged from its dentition and pelage. Since it had no injuries or deformities, it was an ideal candidate for rehabilitation into the wild”, said Dr Reetika Maheshwary, Wildlife Veterinarian with one of WTI’s Rapid Response Teams (RRTs) in the area, who also helped tranquilise the tiger and fit a GPS-based satellite collar to monitor its post-release movement.
WTI operates two RRTs and a long-term project, the Terai Tiger Project (with support from the forest department and the US Fish and Wildlife Service), to mitigate conflict between humans and big cats in the Dudhwa-Pilibhit landscape. The collar was procured and provided to the UP Forest Department by WWF-India, which will also be assisting the department in monitoring the animal post-release.
“Another conflict tiger was similarly captured and released back into the wild in April 2012 by the forest department and WTI — the first such effort in the Terai region. It was monitored for over two years and remained within the confines of Dudhwa, not venturing out again”, said Dr Mayukh Chatterjee, Head of WTI’s Human-Wildlife Conflict Mitigation division. The relocation was a major success, proving that conflict tigers could indeed be rehabilitated into the wild. That tiger, however, had preyed on livestock; it had not attacked humans despite travelling all the way to the outskirts of Lucknow city from the forests of Pilibhit, Dr Chatterjee added.
The tiger’s movement will be intensively monitored on the ground over the next 15-20 days, following which it will be tracked through the satellite collar
With conflict between humans and big cats escalating across India, and with the tiger, our National Animal, in a battle for its very survival, it has become essential that conflict animals be rehabilitated into their natural habitat if circumstances are ideal. “The rehabilitation of this young male tiger was meticulously planned in keeping with established protocols and guidelines, and smoothly conducted in a joint operation by the forest department, WTI and WWF-India”, said Sunil Chaudhary, IFS, Field Director of Dudhwa Tiger Reserve. “The tiger will be intensively monitored on the ground by frontline forest staff, WWF-India and WTI over the next 15-20 days, following which its movement will be tracked through the satellite collar”, he said.
“The release of this tiger, like the previous case in 2012, is a major milestone in tiger conservation in the Terai region. It is rare for such tigers to get a second chance at life in the wild”, said Mahaveer Koujalagi, Deputy Director, Dudhwa Tiger Reserve. “The data we receive from the satellite collar will also help us gain vital insight into the movement and habitat utilisation patterns of such tigers”, he added.