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Injured Tigress Puts Tadoba Forest Officials in a Tight Spot

After a female tigress got injured in the buffer area of Tadoba Andheri Tiger Reserve in Maharashtra, forest officials have been in a difficult situation. Compounding the problem is the fact that tigress Hirdinala has two very young cubs. Conservator of Forests & Field Director, Tadoba Andheri Tiger Reserve, Dr. Jitendra Ramgaonkar said that while exploring options to treat the tigress, they have to take into consideration the well-being of her cubs.

Ever since a few wildlife photographers spotted the injured tigress Hirdinala limping and dragging a hind leg as she walked in the Tadoba Andheri Tiger Reserve (TATR) in Maharashtra’s Chandrapur district, and made viral her photos, there has been an outpouring of concern from people across the country. Forest officials now face a big responsibility of having an injured animal in their jurisdiction, and that too a tigress, which can get dangerous as she has two young cubs with her, which would make her extremely protective and aggressive at the same time. It was the tourists who initially spotted Hirdinala in the Pangdi area in the buffer zone of TATR.

The injury could have been because of territorial fight, but now, the bigger question and challenge is, how to treat her leg and save her life while, at the same time, ensuring the safety and well-being of her two cubs. It is not so simple a process, as Conservator of Forests & Field Director of Tadoba Andheri Tiger Reserve, and 2006 batch IFS officer, Dr. Jitendra Ramgaonkar and other officials told Indian Masterminds.

SAVING HER LIFE

Dr Ramgaonkar said that in the wild, the process of nature has to be respected at all costs and a lot of factors have to be taken into consideration before taking any step. “We are still monitoring the tigress and her cubs. There is no provision to feed a tigress or capture her in the wild. If it is absolutely necessary, we have to first take permission. We cannot just capture one member of the family leaving behind the cubs. It is not as simple as people think.”

CONCERN FOR THE CUBS

He further said that they need to monitor all the parameters related to this situation before taking any step. First and foremost, they need to make sure that the cubs are capable of making their own kill. If the cubs are not in a situation to make their own kill and the tigress is also not likely to survive, then only will they take a decision. Had the tigress been in a zoo, then they would have immediately captured and treated her manually. But, in the wild, they have to respect the process of nature.

“Even if her wound doesn’t heal, we have to take it as a natural process. There are lots of animals who get injured in the wild, and some die, also. That is the sign of their unfitness. The tigress in question has been injured in territorial fight and this is part of wild life. After few more days of monitoring, we will make a plan with our veterinary and rapid rescue teams. But, we will not intervene, unless it is required,” he said.

STRICT MONITORING

The Deputy Director (Buffer Zone) of TATR, Mr. Kushagra Pathak, told Indian Masterminds that the tigress suffered leg injury during a fight with a tiger. “Wild animals getting injured during fights is common in natural habitats. However, as a precautionary measure, we are keeping a close watch on the tigress.”

Outlining the measures being taking for strict monitoring, Assistant Conservator of Forests (FLCS), Buffer Zone, TATR, Mr. B.C. Yele, said, “We have installed cameras at various places for monitoring and are using drones, too. We are tracking her every movement. Our seniors will take the decision of what needs to be done. Maybe, if she stops hunting altogether, we can treat her wound. However, right now, we are only observing and relying on the expert committee’s opinion.”

He outrightly rejected rumours of the possibility of the injured tigress becoming a man-eater. “There is absolutely no chance of her becoming a man-eater. The only issue is, whether she will be able to hunt or not.”

HOW IT CAME TO LIGHT

The injured tigress was first spotted by a wildlife photographer named Vishwas Ugale. He informed the media that he had gone for a safari in Pangdi buffer area, along with three other wildlife photographers, when they came across the injured tigress. He said, “We saw the mighty tigress on cattle kill. After closely watching her, found her walking with a limp as her rear left limb badly injured and paw bone was also broken. She was struggling to walk and protect her kill.”

He also warned that as this injury has affected her agility, she will prefer killing cattle or domestic animals and this might result in man-animal conflict, as she is presently moving around the Pangdi village.

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