Lakhimpur’s killer tigress caught, released in Dudhwa
Mar 11, 2014, 05.39 AM IST
LUCKNOW: In a first for the UP forest department, a tigress that had killed a man in Lakhimpur Kheri district, was tranquilized, trapped and released back into the wild on Monday. The healthy, two-year-old tigress was released in Dudhwa tiger reserve after being medically examined.
Forest department officials believe the February 20 killing by the predator was a chance encounter. The 35-year-old victim's body was found at least 4km off the forest boundary in Bhira range of South Kheri forest division.
"Even 18 days after the killing, there have been no fresh attacks," said DFO, South Kheri, Neeraj Kumar, adding that the department would keep monitoring the situation.
"It cannot be said for sure that the animal wouldn't kill again," he said, but added that the animal now has the opportunity to stay away from humans.
Since the killing, the department had been tracking the animal. On Monday, it was spotted in a sugarcane field, some 50 metres from the boundary of the forest. It was tranquillized and then released in the Chandpara beat of Dudhwa tiger reserve, some 20km away.
Officials said the site of the release was chosen with care. Since the tiger census is on at Dudhwa, a team from WWF had surveyed the Chandpara beat area and found the area unoccupied by other big cats. "Therefore, there's little chance that the tigress would come in conflict with other tigers. The site is deep inside Dudhwa and has ample prey base," said the official.
The official said it is also difficult to say if it actually strayed out of south Kheri. "There is a regular movement of tigers from Kishenpur to south Kheri. To say this one strayed out of south Kheri is therefore difficult," he added.
However, relocation carries a risk, say wildlife biologists. The predator may get disoriented in the new place and show aberrant behaviour. Relocated tigers have in the past tried to return to their original habitat.
Forest department officials said they were faced with increasing cases of young tigers straying out of the protected area in Uttar Pradesh.
"In most cases, tigers come into sugarcane fields chasing nilgai and wild boars," said former director, Dudhwa, GC Mishra.
Meanwhile, wildlife enthusiasts applauded the forest department's swift move to release the animal in the wild. "We will write to the government appreciating the department's quick action," said green activist Sanjay Narayan.