For 72 hours now, forest officers in Nandyal-Kurnool area of Andhra Pradesh are looking for a tigress so that they can return her four cubs to her.
The cubs, who had strayed into an agricultural field, were found by villagers. They first shifted them to a makeshift shelter to protect them from stray dogs. Once the forest department was informed, they were moved to a veterinary centre.
The villagers are now worried that the tigress, upset over losing her cubs, may turn aggressive.
The forest department has set up trap cameras and a 300-member team is looking for the tigress. They are said to have found pug marks and hope to locate the big cat soon. The tigress may be T-108, forest officers said.
According to forest department officials, shifting the cubs to a zoo is “the last option”. They want to reunite them with their mother, hoping that she accepts them and takes them back into the forest.
“Do we rear them for some time and then take them to the zoo or have an in-situ kind of enclosure? That requires a lot of permissions from the National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA). The protocol says we need to form a committee headed by the nominee of the chief wildlife warden,” forest officer Shanti Priya Pandey told news agency PTI.
The officer said they are taking precautions to ensure that they do not leave human imprints on the cubs as that may erase the imprint of the wild and the tigress may reject them.
Forest officers said they are following to a tee the NTCA’s protocol for handling orphaned or abandoned cubs.
According to the forest officer, chances of the cubs’ survival are more if they return to the wild.
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