A Sify Correspondent
Friday, 22 February , 2008, 11:17
Kolkata: A second Sundarbans tiger was captured on Friday by the West Bengal forest officials from a village outside the core habitat area of the big cat.
The royal resident of the thick canopy of mangrove swamps had strayed into human habitation supposedly for food and left pugmarks that led to his capture.
“We have captured the tiger early in the morning. A goat was kept as bait and the tiger walked into the trap. No tranquiliser was used and so the growling tiger is in full senses,” Sundarbans Tiger Reserve (STR) field director Niraj Singhal said.
The tiger was captured from Jharkhali area of outer Sundarbans in South 24 Parganas district, about 120 km from Kolkata.
Sundarbans, which comprises about 10,000 sq km of marshlands and mangrove forests along the coast of the Bay of Bengal, is one of the last natural habitats of the tiger.
A pregnant tigress was captured on Sunday last and then released in the wild on Monday after it strayed into another South 24 Parganas village.
“We are taking the tiger to a secluded place in the reserved forest area for examination by two veterinary doctors. If the tiger was injured, as claimed by some, it could be ascertained there only,” Singhal said.
“The tiger had strayed into the village area Thursday and the pugmarks made it possible for us to capture him,” he said.
Villagers and forest officials kept nightlong vigil and in the early hours of Friday the Royal Bengal tiger was finally caged as it started binging on the bait.
TV footage showed the captured king of the tiger helplessly growling at his human captors. Some forest workers said the tiger has sustained injury earlier.
Wildlife expert Debasis Chakrabarti said the tiger could have been injured while fighting another male for a female tigress and then strayed outside the core area. The winter-spring mating season of the tiger is not yet over.
According to experts, a Sundarbans tiger generally strays out of the forest area either due to old age/injury when hunting becomes difficult, or in fighting during mating. On some occasions it loses direction in a territory intermingled with water and land.
On Tuesday the nation watched a spectacular sight on TV when another Sundarbans tigress that was captured Monday amid high drama from a village jumped magestically from a boat into the river, turned back with a growl at her captors, swam ashore and then melted into the thick mangrove forest.
Capping a two-day drama over the ham-handed capture of the pregnant tigress from a village in South 24 Parganas district, the inmate of the forest was finally returned to her habitat after she was treated for her injuries caused by villagers.
However, this time the forest officials, who were criticised for their inept capture of the tigress when she was poked and stoned by villagers, were cautious and the entire operation was done skillfully.
While the latest census did not cover the Sundarbans, forest officials said there were 249 tigers in the Sundarbans Tiger Reserve and 279 in greater Sundarbans.
But the number, based on pugmarks of individual tigers, was contested by an analysis of the same pugmarks by the Indian Statistical Institute (ISI).
ISI experts said in July 2006 there were only 75 tigers left in the Sundarbans after the analysis with the help of new software. The forest department was quick to rubbish the figure and the software.
According to the latest tiger census released by the government last week, the total number of tigers across the country stands at 1,411, a dramatic fall from 3,642 in the 2001-02 census.
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