On Wednesday morning, it was the turn of the Forest Department to roar in triumph. A four-year-old tiger lies within the 6.5 ft by 2.5 ft cage draped in a black cloth barely hundred feet away from the kill it had savoured an hour ago. The tiger, which is about nine-feet long and weighs about one quintal, had been evading the forest guards for the last 108 days.
The tiger was tranquilised at 6:40 am sharp on Wednesday. Darted by Zoo Vet Utkarsh Shukla, who was lucky with his second attempt, the animal fell unconscious at 7 am. The tiger, which had entered the city limits from Hardoi in the first week of January, was later taken to the Dudhwa National Park where it would be released after fixing a radio collar on its neck for the monitoring of its movement.
The operation was headed by Conservator Basti Mahendra Singh with the key officials being DFO Awadh Ashok Mishra, DFO Barabanki PP Singh, SDO VB Srivastava along with a number of forest and NGO staff.
The tiger had kept the forest department on tenterhooks. It evaded net traps, lure of dummy tigress and pits. The foresters claim the animal devoured 12 live baits, five blue bulls and three domestic cattle.
The tiger was darted three kilometres from the main gate of the Central Institute of Subtropical Horticulture.
The first dart that was fired by Utkarsh Shukla deflected in the bush and broke while the second one hit the tiger on its hip.
The animal was brought to the cage on a stretcher. This was a fearful experience for the forest staff as the darting merely affects the tiger’s nervous system, which prevents limb movement, but its eyes remain open. The cage was covered with a black material to prevent the animal from getting aggressive.
After the successful operation, which began at 3 am on Wednesday, Conservator Basti Mahendra Singh said the first combing by three elephants revealed that the tiger was close to the remains of the kill. “We immediately withdrew the three elephants and started arranging the net and the white cloth (that psychologically keeps the tiger away) to prevent its movements.
However, it jumped the net and came on the side of the sheesham plot,” said Singh.
“We did not want the tiger to move so we cornered the tiger with vehicles placed on the road in front, an elephant on the left side and another on the right side. The elephant carrying the Zoo Vet came right in front of the tiger and the animal charged at them. The instruction given was to be patient and in the process one of the elephants legs got caught in a hole nearby. However, Shukla after some time made the first dart following it closely with the second one” said Singh.
The news of the tiger being trapped brought in a massive crowd, which caused a traffic jam in front of the institute’s main gate, and delayed the process of the tiger being loaded on the truck. A crane was used to pick up the cage and place it on the truck.
People pushed, jostled just to get a glimpse of the tiger and catch him on their mobile. Loud shouts went up in the air as the mini truck left for Dudhwa.