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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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    Samir Rasam
    Sep 23, 2017 at 10:08 am
    Tigers in the wild coming close to humans create pressure and lead to conflicts. It's really hard to say if T-24 Ustad really has become a man-eater or just a killer due to the conflict between the two, but the end result is that this beautiful animal has lost it's home and now confined to a small area which spells doom for it. We need to realise that population of people living on the fringes of such protected areas are to be blamed for such incidents. Govt needs to have a strong program to ensure that these boundaries are protected and humans don't enter even the buffer zones. It's ridiculous to note that in some parks, highways are cutting through protected areas.
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      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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        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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          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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            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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