Stray Sundarbans tiger captured by forest officials

February 22nd, 2008 - 5:06 pm ICT by admin  

Kolkata, Feb 22 (IANS) A tiger was captured Friday by West Bengal forest department officials from a village outside the big cat’s core habitat in the Sundarbans mangrove forest. The tiger had strayed into the village in search of food and left pugmarks that led to his capture.

“We captured the tiger early Friday without using any tranquilliser. A goat was kept as a bait and the tiger walked into the trap,” Sundarbans Tiger Reserve (STR) field director Niraj Singhal told IANS.

The tiger was captured from Jharkhali area of the outer Sundarbans in South 24 Parganas district, about 120 km from Kolkata.

“The tiger had strayed into the village area Thursday and the pugmarks helped us capture him,” Singhal said.

Atanu Raha, principal chief conservator in the state government, said the tiger had sustained an injury on his right hind foot before being captured.

He added that the injury was not due to a fight with another tiger but its cause was yet to be ascertained.

According to experts, a Sundarbans tiger generally strays out of the forest when hunting becomes difficult due to old age or injury. On some occasions it loses direction.

The 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.

A pregnant tigress was captured Feb 18 and then released into the wild after she strayed into a South 24 Parganas village.

While the latest tiger census did not cover the Sundarbans, forest officials said there were 249 tigers in the Sundarban Tiger Reserve and 279 in greater Sundarbans when the census was last conducted in 2001-02.

But the number, based on pugmarks of individual tigers, was contested by an analysis of the same pugmarks by the Indian Statistical Institute (ISI).

ISI experts said in July 2006 there were only 75 tigers left in the Sundarbans after the analysis with the help of new software. The forest department was quick to rubbish the figure and the software.

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.

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