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When The Predator Became A Victim, Tranquilized, Captured Live In Bandipur 

Indian Masterminds Stories

It was 1.45 am. Whole jungle was engulfed in an eerie silence. Yet, a bunch of foresters were waiting in middle of the forest for the rogue king – 15U-2371 – a tiger that had turned maneater. It had killed over half a dozen cattle besides mauling couple of human beings. The team of three was sitting in an iron cage camouflaged with twigs and leaves. They didn’t have liberty to talk or even move an inch lest the predator gets alerted of their presence. 

The silence of the night was broken by soft and steady walk of the tiger. The team didn’t want to kill him for his ‘crimes’ but to capture him live. Through their night vision devices, they could spot the tiger barely 50 meters away. Its eyes were set on the bait, the team had put for him.

Glances were exchanged and nod to fire the tranquilizer dart was given. 

TRANQUILISED

The dart hit the tiger and it bolted. The team was sure that they had immobilized the king but had no clue where had it gone and how far. The hunt started with help of powerful torches. Around 60-70 people were pressed into service. Pugmarks were traced. And finally, after about half an hour the tiger was located about 40-meters from the place it had been hit. It was not fully unconscious. Amid releasing intermittent roars, it was also moving its claws menacingly. The team decided to throw a net on him. But he still made a last attempt to flee and jumped. “Everybody was scared as it takes 15-20 minutes for a tiger to sleep but he was still awake. We decided to give him more time and about 15 minutes later, finally he slept”, said the field director of Bandipur Tiger Reserve (BTR), Dr P Ramesh, who spearheaded the operation to capture the maneater. 

LIFE PRISONER

He was then brought to the main road and put it in the cage. The doctors then revived him and few villagers were called to see it. According to Dr. Ramesh it is important otherwise the villagers don’t believe and the effort is wasted. Finally, the tiger was sent to the rescue center in Mysuru. He is doing well. The tiger would now be caged for life. That’s the punishment for going astray. 

It is the third time when a tiger was captured by Dr. P Ramesh in his career but he believes it was the toughest as the operation was inside the dense forest. 

TASTING HUMAN BLOOD

The tiger was almost 13 years old. Everything waa fine with him till around two months back when it started attacking cattle and killed more than 10 of them. People were angry and were sacred for their life. The fear accentuated when the tiger attacked a man a month ago injuring him badly. 

He had killed more than 10 cattle and a lady too

The man was somehow saved and again on November 24, the tiger attacked an elderly woman who died on the spot. The attacks were frequent so an immediate action was required. A meeting was called which was attended by the BTR Director, Dr. P Ramesh, NTCA and Chief Wildlife Warden of the state. 

“We were giving compensation for the cattle, but then he killed a woman. The tiger has tasted human flesh so it has become more dangerous. So, it was decided do capture him. While the local people wanted it to be killed but that was our last resort”, said Dr. Ramesh while speaking to Indian Masterminds.

Elephants on the mission to track the tiger

THE MANHUNT

A team was formed as per the protocols. Around 200 resources were called from various forces in the state including STPF, leopard task force, elephant task force and range officers of Bandipur. Three elephants were roped in to track that tiger. More than 50 camera traps were set up, thermal drones & GSM cameras were also used. 

DAY 1 –November

The team set all the necessary equipments. Some bones were scattered and a live bait was also put in the middle. Dr. Ramesh with doctors and few staff stayed in the camouflaged vehicle very close to the bait waiting for the tiger to come. They waited for the whole day but there was no sign of him. 

Camouflaged cage

In the evening, it was captured in camera just around 1 Km away from the spot where he killed that lady. There was two tigers in that area but the killer one was confirmed by testing the DNA extracted from the tiger’s hair that was found from the spot and matched.

DAY 2 –November 26

Since, the tiger was moving so around 50 more camera traps were put in the surrounding area. At around 11:45 AM, the team received a call about the tiger attacking another cattle. “He was chased away by the villagers. We had told them to not chase him but the people wanted to save their cattle”, added Mr. Ramesh. 

Few hours later, another cattle was killed around 3 Km from the first spot. Dr. Ramesh’s team deduced that it was different tiger but yet the arrangements were made on the spot 2 as well. Few people guarded that area but it didn’t turn up that night. 

DAY 3 -November 27

Dr. Ramesh was waiting on the spot 1 and the other team also left the spot at around 6 am in the morning. But, barely after half an hour, the same tiger was captured on a camera. The team travelled, put a live bait and a camouflaged cave was set up. The doctor and couple of foresters waited in the cage daringly. At around 7 in the night, he was seen in the camera again. Since it was dark so the doctor couldn’t dart it. 

Dr. Ramesh said, “We spotted him as were seeing the visuals but the team inside the cage first thought that it is a wild pig. They tried to capture but failed.”

FINAL HOURS 

The operation was called out for dinner. There it was discussed to keep the cage nearer to the live bait. Although the tiger was seen almost after 6-12 hours but the team didn’t want to take risk. Everything was set, the respond team was also ready from around 40-50 meters away from the spot. Dr. Ramesh also waited in his camouflaged vehicle. The doctor and one STPF guard named Kumar went into the cage. At around 1 AM in the night they heard some noise but ignored presuming it was some other animal. 

It was 1:45, when dr. Ramesh received a call to dart the tiger and finally the tiger was found 40m away from the spot. He had fallen but was not completely surrendering. 


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