Stuck at Sajjangarh for over a year, Ranthambore tiger Ustad could soon find a bigger home

New Year could bring good news for Ustad — the Ranthambore tiger that was shifted to a zoo in Udaipur for being a man-eater — with the state government hinting at providing the big cat with a bigger home.

Written by Mahim Pratap Singh | Jaipur | Published:January 12, 2017 6:16 am

New Year could bring good news for Ustad — the Ranthambore tiger that was shifted to a zoo in Udaipur for being a man-eater — with the state government hinting at providing the big cat with a bigger home. If all goes according to the plan, T24, alias Ustad, could soon be relocated from his less than one-hectare enclosure at the Sajjangarh biological park near Udaipur to “at least a 50-hectare area” inside a tiger reserve.

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Rajasthan’s minister of environment and wildlife Gajendra Singh Khimsar — who hinted at the possibility following a review meeting on Tuesday — however, ruled out rehabilitating Ustad into the wild. “We are trying to get him to a bigger home. The enclosure at Sajjangarh is too small for him,” Khimsar told The Indian Express on Wednesday.
“But before that, there are certain precautionary steps that need to be taken. We have sent his blood samples to the Indian Veterinary Research Institute in Bareilly. Let us first get the results and if everything goes fine, we will take a call about relocating him,” Khimsar said.

The forest department has insisted on keeping the tiger at Sajjangarh as it allows for better medical monitoring as Ustad has been suffering from several health complications ever since he was brought to Udaipur in 2015 from his 5,000-hectare home in Ranthambore National Park. “We will explore all options. He will perhaps be soft-released into a larger enclosure, at least 50-hectares, within Sariska or some other tiger reserve,” the minister said.

“But we are clear about not releasing him into the wild as of now, as he could still be dangerous for humans,” he added. Ustad’s story has divided former officials and wildlife experts, with some arguing for his release into the wild, while others commending the forest department for shifting him to a zoo in time.

The relocation also sparked off a row between the forest department and the National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA), the apex body for tiger conservation in India. The NTCA has repeatedly taken the department to task, accusing it of violating Standard Operating Procedures and erroneously lebelling Ustad a man-eater.

T24, better known as Ustad, was translocated out of the Ranthambore Tiger Reserve in May, 2015, after he mauled a forest guard to death. He was shifted to a small enclosure at the Sajjangarh Biological park in Udaipur, about 400 km away.

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  1. A
    anna
    Mar 23, 2017 at 6:40 am
    Thanks to Hon Forest Minister of Rajasthan for soft release of ustad in Sariska Enclave, presently ideal place for him. Sending ustad to Sajjangarh zoo was a wrong step and Deptt not followed the NTCA guideline and not followed the SOP, they have done this due the pressure of few Resort Owners of Sawaimadhopur. Great news that we have waited a year to hear. Hopefully in the forest he is to get released in there will be no human contact whatever. lt;br/gt;Ref:
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  2. K
    Kaliyug
    Jan 12, 2017 at 1:08 am
    A Tiger is never dangerous to humans, it is the other way around. Most Tigers live and eat what is their natural prey, people go into the forests and steal wood and other items, then settle down illegally in the periphery of the forests, this is what brings human tiger conflicts. India should have strict Family planning for all its residents, so that potion does not further increase without adequate resources.
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  3. K
    Kaz Cobb
    Jan 12, 2017 at 8:04 pm
    Everyone jumping on the bandwagon. Of course he's been ill, they made him ill. Of course he will hate humans, but isn't that a good thing. BUT will the humans NOW finally leave him alone. doubt it. But the news he will be away from the zoo of death, excellent
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  4. N
    Nereda Leary
    Jan 13, 2017 at 9:14 pm
    Wonderful news that we have waited a year to hear. Hopefully in the forest he is to get released in there will be no human contact whatsoever.
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  5. N
    NILANJAN ROY
    Jan 19, 2017 at 4:33 am
    Thanks to Hon Forest Minister of Rajasthan for soft release of ustad in Sariska Enclave, presently ideal place for him.Sending ustad to Sajjangarh zoo was a wrong step and Deptt not followed the NTCA guideline and not followed the SOP, they have done this due the pressure of few Resort Owners of Sawaimadhopur.Villagers, Gypsy Drivers, Guides opined that Ranthamb main road, road for Ranthamb Fort belongs to ustad territory they have faced ustad several times during their duties but he always avoided human being, probably ustad lebelled MANEATER because during night he never allowed anybody by foot in his territory.Request to Hon Forest Minister, few Resort Owners charging rather black marketting online safari booking specially prime zones 3.4,5 @ rs 3000 to rs 5000 per safari as per the demand and sources told that their is a nexus between them and some forest official of RTR,kindly investigate that and always close watch essential.Again thanks to the Minister,hope soft release will be very fast because we have already lost more than 18 months.
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  6. N
    NILANJAN ROY
    Jan 19, 2017 at 4:18 am
    Thanks to the Hon Forest Mnister of Rajasthan,it is true Forest dept not taken steps as per NTCA guideline and violate SOP regarding ustad case under the pressure of some resort owners of Sawaimadhopur they have a bad nexus regarding online safari booking charging @rs 2000 to rs 4000 as per the demand and sharing that money reorted by locals.Zone 3-4-5 all three prime zones sometimes they are dealing with tourist @rs 5000 to rs 6000 also.Villagers are against that step they are having opinion that no of times they are infront of ustad because his territory was covering fort road even main Ranthamb road also he never attack or charged them.Gypsy drivers and guides also told us during early morning when they are coming for their duties they saw ustad from a close distance in Ranthamb road but in all occation he was cool and avoid them, but ustad is really dangerous if anybody enter his prime zone in night time and by foot, probably that was the main reason to lebelled him A MANEATER.
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  7. V
    VIVIENNE CROSSLAND
    Jan 12, 2017 at 6:30 pm
    The news is absolutely fabulous. There are many who will be ecstatic to learn that after so long this tiger who acted in complete innocence, and who has suffered torment and torture for so long will be able to enjoy some type of freedom. The new Minister for Rajasthan FD, Mr. Khimsar is the only person who has shown Ustad compion and acted favourably, recognising the cruelty inflicted on T24, Ustad. He must be applauded for his humanity and love for India's national treasure.
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