Caged cat ‘falls in love’ with goat
ByVijay Pinjarkar, TNN | Mar 6, 2013, 06.37 AM IST
NAGPUR: When staff at the Bor wildlife sanctuary released a live goat in the enclosure of a full grown male tiger, they hoped the beast would make a quick kill. To their astonishment and horror, the tiger instead decided to make friends with its intended meal.
For two days, the tiger did not kill the goat despite being hungry. Instead it played with it; at one point even playfully dumping it in an artificial waterhole. Finally, the goat was shifted out and the tiger was given beef to eat. Officials who watched the sequence of events in dismay are hunting for answers to explain the animal's behaviour. They are worried that having been raised in captivity, the big cat may have lost its hunting skills.
Incidentally, the tiger is one of three siblings - the other two are females - rescued from the Dhaba forest range in 2009 after their mother went missing.
All the three were raised on a diet of beef. Subsequently, though, a few live animals like deer were released in their enclosure to hone their hunting skills. Officials say that while the two tigresses have turned out fine - the goat that was spared by their male sibling was released in their enclosure and instantly killed and consumed by them - the tiger's unusually docile behaviour has become a cause of concern.
Although the Dehradun-based Wildlife Institute of India had recommended release of the rescued tigers sometime back, doubts are being raised whether it would be feasible for the male to return to the wild. "I fear the male tiger is not fit for release," says veteran conservationist MS Chouhan. "When the females were rescued they had killed a dog and it seems they still had some hunting skills, but in the case of the male they are evidently missing."
The peculiar condition of the tiger, adds wildlife biologist Vidya Athreya, could also be because it was deprived of its mother's training. "Cubs require a lot of help from their mother to learn how to hunt well," she says.
The flip side of releasing orphaned tigers back in the wild, as noted tiger experts Valmik Thapar and K Ullas Karanth point out, is that captive animals are often not adept at finding their own food source. They could therefore turn into cattle-lifters or worse, even man-eaters.