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Shoddy translocation of tiger proves fatal for big cats in India

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Bengaluru, Nov 19: The recent news of the death of the Tiger in Satkosia Tiger Reserve has triggered a debate about the relocation project of tigers in India.

Three-year-old tiger nicknamed MB 2 alias 'Mahaveer' brought all the way to the Satkosia Tiger Reserve from the Kanha national park in Madhya Pradesh, a distance of 600 kms died three months after completing the journey.

Representational Image

The post-mortem report indicated that the death was due to infected ante-mortem maggot-infested wound followed by multiple organ failure.

Releasing a statement on the preliminary findings, the forest department said, "A deep lacerated and five-days-old infected wound was observed on the dorsal neck region of the tiger, which may be the cause of the mortality".

India's first tiger translocation hits roadblock; Sundari to be Kept in Zoo

It further added that the incident occurred "500 metres from Raigoda to Nuagoda forest road inside... Athgarh Forest Division.

Initially, the project had run into trouble after the tigress, Sundari, brought from Bandhavgarh Tiger Reserve in M.P., was recaptured following couple of incidents of mauling.

The 26-crore project between the state and the centre has been halted for now and authorities are trying to process information and reach to conclusive evidence.

What is inter- state tiger transfer project?

After it was declared that Panna tiger reserve in Madhya Pradesh had lost all of its tigers in 2009, the state and centre decided to transfer the big cats to other tiger reserves to main a balanced ecological system. It was hoped that the relocation of a female tigress from Bandhavgarh and the male tiger from Kanha along with the resident tigress would kick start a new wild tiger population. The plan was to 'import' a total of six tigers in a bid to increase the tiger population in Satkosia, which had dwindled to just one from a high of 12 when it was declared a tiger reserve in 2007.

Who should be held responsible?

Initial unconfirmed reports had suggested that the tiger may have been caught in a snare and killed by poachers or locals angry over the killing of two villagers by 'Sundari'. It was later revealed that the tiger died due to a maggot-infection on the neck. The other case of translocation also didn't go as expected after Tigress Sundari attacked two villagers.

When 11 tigers disappeared over the years in Satkosia, why were there no probes or investigations? , How did they not only miss a radio-collared tigress (Sundari) killing a person? How did they not know where the cats were at all times? Were the teams not trained properly? Were the radio collars not monitored properly? These are the questions that rise to one's mind.

Whatever the reason behind the death of Mahaveer, there is little doubt that it is a huge setback for an ambitious project launched under the supervision of NTCA.

With Tigress Sundari now in confinement after killing one, it is hard to see how the project will go further, especially with the locals up in arms over the killings.

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