Foresters have caught as many as five tigers in the Sunderbans in the last four days. Of these, three had strayed into human habitat. Sundarban Tiger Reserve (STR) officers have run along the length and breadth of Sunderbans for the last few days, with tigers lurking in villages adjoining the forest areas.
On Thursday, forest officials caught a tigress at Netidhopani island to fit it with a radio-collar. But the foresters found the tigress to be ill and immediately removed it to the Alipore zoo hospital for treatment.
On Saturday night, a tiger was reported to have strayed into Malmelia village near Basirhat. The villagers were alerted after a dog, a goat and two cows of Dinabandhu Mondal were found missing on Saturday night. Immediately, STR control room was informed and a team of officers rushed to Malmelia village. On Sunday night, villagers followed the pugmarks and finally, STR officers trapped the tiger with the help of a bait.
The young tiger was tranquillized. “For the first time, we managed to take the weight of a Sunderbans tiger and the measurement of its neck. It was found to be thinner and underweight compared to a mainland tiger of its age,” said a senior STR officer.
The five-year-old tiger weighed 98 kg, while a weight of mainland tiger usually varies from 160 kg to 170 kg. The neck of the tiger was 53 cm, while 65 cm to 75 cm is the normal size of the neck of a mainland tiger, said a senior officer. Foresters have fitted it with a radio-collar. After a thorough health checkup, the tiger was released at Katuajhri-1.
Meanwhile, a tiger was caught at Netidhopani to be tranquillized and radio-collared. It was also found to be frail and underweight (weighing 118 kg and with a neck size of 58 cm). The tiger was brought back to Netidhopani after a health check-up and released. Both tigers were released under the watchful eyes of Dr Y B Jhala of Wild Life Institute, Dehradun.
While releasing the tigress, we adopted a unique technique. Instead of releasing it from the boat, the tiger was carried to Netidhopani island in a tranquillized state and left on the land. The foresters kept watch till the tiger gained full consciousness and walked deep into the forest in a leisurely gait.
Even before the release of these two tigers, the forest officials had found a tiger lurking in Jamespur. Three cows had gone missing from Jamespur on Saturday night. Finally, following its pugmark trail, the villagers found the tiger fast asleep after killing three more cows in the adjoining village of Annpur. Forest officials then trapped the tiger.
Another tiger that had strayed into Kalitala village in Shamshernagar got caught around 8 pm on Sunday. The scared villagers had put up flood-lights to keep the tiger at bay. Despite a 24-hour vigil by the villagers, the tiger reemerged in Kalitala village and picked up three sheep and two cows before being caught.
Thursday: Tigress trapped in Netidhopani for radio-collaring. It was found to be ill and hospitalised. Saturday: Another Netidhopani tiger caught. It was released in the same island on Sunday after radiocollaring. Saturday:Young tiger strays into Malmelia village. Caught, tranquillized and released in Katuajhuri. Sunday: Tiger that killed five cows found in Annpur. Under observation. Sunday: The tiger that terrorised Kalitala village in Shamshergunj returned and was caught around 8 pm.