10-year-old male tiger, U-2371, shifted to Chamundi Animal Conservation, Rescue and Rehabilitation Centre in Mysuru
Mysore/Mysuru: The day and night operation that began on Nov. 25 to capture the elusive tiger that had killed 49-year-old Rathnamma near Balluruhundi village in the Hediyala Range of the Bandipur Tiger Reserve in Nanjangud Taluk, finally bore fruits at 3.30 am today when the big cat was trapped in an area filled with thick forest, shrubs and bushes. The news of the tiger’s capture has brought relief to local villagers.
Bandipur Tiger Reserve Director P. Ramesh Kumar confirmed to Star of Mysore that the 10-year-old male tiger, identified as U-2371, has been shifted to Chamundi Animal Conservation, Rescue and Rehabilitation Centre of the Mysuru Zoo in Koorgalli village, where it is reported to be in good health. Doctors have been asked to check if there are any internal injuries and do all the routine checks including blood test.
The tiger had taken shelter on the fringes of the Bandipur Reserve as the core areas have been occupied by territorial felines. This particular tiger was 10 years old and was not in a position to hunt and defend itself from the territorial tigers. As such, it had taken refuge in the forest fringes preying on cattle, wild boars and it also attacked Rathnamma, an easy prey, Ramesh Kumar said.
Dart fired at 8.45 pm
The massive operation was initiated by a team of over 200 personnel including tribals living in hamlets nearby. The dart was fired by Dr. Mirza Wasim at 8.45 pm and the tiger was put in the cage at 3.30 am. The teams had intensified their efforts as the tiger had killed one cattle at Kaalanamunti and another at Kallaare Kandi on Sunday, two kilometres from the location where it had attacked Rathnamma.
A camera trap captured an image of the tiger near Kallaare Kandi, feeding on the flesh of cattle at 6.45 pm yesterday. The personnel were equipped with a GSM Camera that provided the live movements of the tiger as it approached to eat the carcass of the cow.
Along with Dr. Mirza Wasim from Bandipur Tiger Reserve, Dr. Pradeep from Kali Tiger Reserve had concealed themselves in a cage near the Kallaare Kandi area, bordering the Hediyala Range close to Balluruhundi village.
The team employed a thermal drone to monitor the tiger’s movements and set up 55 camera traps to identify and track its activities. Additionally, three elephants — Rohit, Parthasarathy, and Hiranya — were utilised to navigate terrains inaccessible by vehicles.
Distinctive stripe pattern
The tiger was identified as U-2371 based on its distinctive stripe pattern matched with the Forest Department’s tiger database. “In addition, we will conduct DNA analysis using strands of the tiger’s hair recovered from the site where Rathnamma was killed to scientifically confirm its identity,” Ramesh Kumar said.
“Capturing the tiger posed various challenges, as it had been frequently spotted near the village before retreating into the jungle. Furthermore, the tiger had killed two cows within 24 hours near Balluruhundi and we had detected this with camera trap images,” he added.
“In response to the tiger’s movements, we strategically positioned cages near the cattle kill, concealing them with vegetation. Veterinarians Dr. Wasim Mirza and Dr. Pradeep positioned themselves inside one of the cages, prepared to tranquillise the tiger on Monday evening. However, as the tiger did not appear, the decision was made to wait until dawn, with the veterinarians remaining in the cage. Around 8.45 pm, the team witnessed the tiger moving cautiously toward the cattle kill from the camouflaged cage. Dr. Mirza successfully fired the dart and the big cat ran away from the spot. Later, the tranquilliser took effect, our personnel swiftly surrounded the tiger, placed it in a net, and transferred it to a cage,” Ramesh Kumar added. K.R. Narayan, Range Forest Officer (RFO) of Hediyala, along with ACF Paramesh from Hediyala Sub-Division, actively participated in the operation that was held under the supervision of Dr. Malathi Priya, Chief Conservator of Forest (CCF) for Mysuru Circle.