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Panel suggests ‘problem tigress’ should be released into the wild

The Indian Express
15 Jul 2017

Rambabu is understood to have expressed the view that keeping one tigress in captivity with long-term conservation interest in mind does not amount to any injustice to the animal since any erratic behaviour of the tigress could add to the public anger against it.

A SPECIAL committee set up to decide the fate of the captured “problem tigress” of Brahmapuri has suggested that the animal should be released back into the wild. The sub-adult animal, T27 C1, an offspring of tigress T27, from South Brahmapuri forest division in Chandrapur district was tranquilised and captured early this week. The animal was brought to Gorewada Zoo here where it has been kept in an enclosure.

On Friday, a committee comprising veterinarians, N P Dakshinkar and A D Kholkute, wildlife activists, Kishor Rithe and Kundan Hate, Divisional Forest Officer Girish Vasishth and Additional Principal Chief Conservator of Forest Rambabu as its chairperson held detailed discussions about the tigress. With the exception of Rambabu, all other members were of the opinion that the tigress should be released back into the wild.

“Despite the fact that the tigress has attacked humans, killing two and injuring four over the past two months, the (committee) members felt that it was not an abnormal behaviour. Its mother and two female siblings have also been moving in the nearby areas and have caused no panic. This particular cub’s home range is currently close to villages and hence, it has caused disturbance due to its instinctive sub-adult reaction to overwhelming human presence, which is not an abnormal behaviour. It is a perfectly healthy animal and can be repatriated to its natural dwelling,” Rithe told The Indian Express. “However, all (members) concurred on the point that the release must not be made in the same area,” he added.

Asked if there are areas where the tigress can be released without giving rise to the possibility of the animal resuming attacks, Rithe said: “There are several feasible areas in the state where such relocation is possible without courting any fresh trouble. But because it’s a sensitive issue, the new location could be decided discreetly.” He added: “But any decision to release the animal will have to be taken expeditiously so that it does not get used to human contact. The animal’s movement in the new area should be monitored by radio collaring it…”

Rambabu, however, was of the opinion that the animal should continue to stay in captivity since there is no guarantee of it not relapsing into the same ferocious mood in case of any chance encounter with humans. When contacted, he refused to divulge details of Friday’s proceedings. “I will submit my report to the PCCF (wildlife), A K Mishra, who will take the final call in the matter.”

Rambabu is understood to have expressed the view that keeping one tigress in captivity with long-term conservation interest in mind does not amount to any injustice to the animal since any erratic behaviour of the tigress could add to the public anger against it. Some forest officials present during the deliberation said, out of hundreds of tigers, keeping one animal in captivity in a gap of several years does not amount to any numerical loss to the animal population.

Some also pointed out the possibility of the tigress instinctively returning to its home range at Brahmapuri from its place of release. In at least one instance in the past, a tigress captured from Brahmapuri and released in Navegao National Park in Gondia after treatment had created trouble in Chhattisgarh where the animal had migrated. It was stoned to death by a mob. In the past 10 years, three problem tigers have been shot dead in Vidarbha.