Sunderbans mystery: Tigers getting weaker?
TNN | Mar 5, 2013, 02.19 AM IST

KOLKATA: A tigress was captured in the Sunderbans on Monday evening after foresters found some abnormality in its movement.

Confirming the news, Sunderbans Biosphere Reserve director Pradeep Shukla said that the doctors would observe the big cat, caged near Sajnekhali, on Tuesday. Members of National Tiger Conservation Authority's (NTCA) schedule I animal handling committee will also visit the spot.

Sunderbans Tiger Reserve (STR) field director Soumitra Dasgupta said the tigress, aged around four years, has a weak hind portion. "We will be able to confirm the future course of action only on Tuesday after the vets check it properly. It has been kept near Sajnekhali," he said.

In July last year, a tiger was captured in the mangroves with weak hind legs. The tiger, aged around eight years and still undergoing treatment at the zoo, was diagnosed with osteoarthritis. Shukla said that possibility of injuries from the breathing roots cannot be ruled out.

However, experts have always sounded alarm on low prey density and human pressure on the forests as probable reasons behind frequent straying of tigers out of the jungles. A recent study by the Wildlife Institute of India (WII) has pegged very low prey density in Sajnekhali and west range of STR.

"Weak hind legs point to less availability of prey in the forests. Recent cases of deer poaching only bring to front the fact that how low prey density is plaguing the Sunderbans tigers. This may be one of the reasons behind the weak hind portion of the tigers. Possibility of an injury while hunting can't be ruled out either," said an expert.