Pregnant tigress climbs palm tree in Bengal village

February 18th, 2008 - 5:29 pm ICT by admin  

Kolkata, Feb 18 (IANS) After 14 hours of high drama, West Bengal forest officials Monday rescued a pregnant tigress which had strayed into a village outside the Sundarbans tiger habitat area and climbed a date palm tree. The incident took place at Deulbari village near Kultali in South 24-Parganas district, about 250 km from the state capital.

“The tigress is now under observation and experts are examining her health. The tigress came out of the forest late Sunday night in search of a safe place as she is pregnant,” West Bengal Sundarbans Affairs Minister Kanti Ganguly said.

He said four villagers of Deulbari received minor injuries when they helped forest department officials catch the animal. One of them was taken to hospital.

The forest officials and police reached the spot and shot the tigress with tranquilliser guns. The officials also cordoned off the area with nets.

Finally, when the tigress fell asleep, it was rescued and sent back to the Sundarbans forest belt by a boat.

A live video footage of a TV channel shows villagers beating the pregnant tigress with sticks and throwing stones at her while catching her in the net.

“The incident took place outside the Sundarbans Tiger Reserve area. The forest department officials were there and rescued the animal,” Sundarbans Tiger Reserve (STR) director Niraj Singhal told IANS.

Sundarbans, which comprises about 10,000 sq km of marshlands and mangrove forests along the coast of the Bay of Bengal, is one of the last natural habitats of the tiger.

West Bengal principal chief conservator of forest (PCCF) Atanu Raha said the tigress was successfully caught and sent back to the forest.

“The catching technique may vary depending upon the situation. The forest officials took the right steps in capturing the animal,” Raha said.

“The state government will bear the medical expenditure of the four villagers who were injured by the tigress during the rescue operation,” Minister Ganguly said.

According to the latest tiger census released by the government last week, the total number of tigers across the country stands at 1,411, a dramatic fall from 3,642 in the 2001-02 census.

While the latest census did not cover the Sundarbans, forest officials said there were 249 tigers in the Sundarbans Tiger Reserve and 279 in greater Sundarbans.

The number was based on pugmarks of individual tigers. But through an analysis of the same pugmarks, the Indian Statistical Institute (ISI) said in July 2006 there were only 75 tigers left in the Sundarbans.

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