The National Tiger Conservation Authority has said that tiger T-24 — shifted from the Ranthambore tiger reserve to Sajjangarh zoo — was not a maneater and asked the state government to bring the big cat back to the wild. The NTCA has also asked the state government to “urgently” regulate tourism activities around the tiger reserve.
The authority, the apex body for conservation of tigers in the country, has questioned the state government over shifting T-24 to a zoo instead of another location in the wild. It has also held that all three attacks by T-24 on humans—cited by the state government—occurred when humans ventured too close to the tiger inside his territory. There was “considerable time gap between the attacks” and rest of the time T-24 had stayed in his territory depending on its natural prey base, the NTCA has said.
“T-24 may not (qualify to) be described as a maneater…rather such incidents may be more closely described as consequences of chance encounters due to excessive human proximity to tiger,” the NTCA has said in its report on the translocation of T-24, aka Ustaad.
In the report — a copy of which is with The Sunday Express — the authority has taken the state forest department to task for not keeping it in the loop and proceeding with translocation without its prior permission.
All that the NTCA received from the Ranthambore National Park authorities was a text message on May 8, which said: “Today at 4 pm, a local forest guard, Rampal Mali, has been attacked by tiger near the entrance of park and the detailed report will be sent shortly”.
In response, the authority sought details of the incident on an urgent basis. “However…neither written approval from NTCA was obtained by state government…nor any report was submitted to NTCA regarding capture and relocation of the tiger,” the report notes.
The first formal report on translocation reached NTCA nine days after the tiger hadbeen transferred to the Sajjangarh zoo in Udaipur. Tiger T-24 was shifted out from Ranthambore tiger reserve on May 16 after the reserve declared it a maneater for killing a forest guard.
The order issued by the Chief Wildlife Warden said, the NTCA report did not state reasons for the tiger being translocated to a zoo. “The order does not speak about the reasons the CWW had considered in arriving at the conclusion as to why T-24 cannot be rehabilitated in the wild as required under Section 11 of the Wildlife (Protection) Act 1972,” the report says.
“The report is damning and the state government now needs to answer and act against the erring officials,” said wildlife activist Rupesh Vyas.
The NTCA has also called for regulation of tourism and developing a master plan to faciliatate movement of pilgrims through the reserve, failing which tigers would be increasingly vulnerable to threat of conflicts with humans. It has also noted that the staff at Ranthambore required “training in many domains related to tourism and skills on field craft in wildlife science”.
However, forest minister Raj Kumar Rinwa said the NTCA was duly informed of the translocation. “I was told that they were informed. And why did they not raise these issues earlier?” he asked. “The B P Singh committee that we had set up will submit its report in four-five days. We will take a call based on that,” he said.
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