THE FOREST department has put on hold the operation to tranquilise the second cub of tigress Avni (T1), who was shot dead in the forests of Pandharkawada in Yavatmal district on November 2, for “strategic and technical” reasons.
One of Avni’s two cubs, C1, a female, was caught on December 22 by a team from Madhya Pradesh and sent to a four-hectare chain-link enclosure in Pench Tiger Reserve.
Principal Chief Conservator of Forest A K Mishra told The Indian Express that the operation to tranquilise the cub, C2, will resume in about five days. While the MP team returned to its state on Thursday, the elephants involved in the operation stayed back in Maharashtra.
“The operation to tranquilise the cub has been put on hold, but not the tracking and patrolling. The four elephants from MP are exhausted, two of them are a little unwell too. Moreover, they are not used to this kind of terrain,” he added.
“Our staff, too, is exhausted. So, it was decided to halt the tranquilisation operation. The MP team had come here on December 17. They, too, have responsibilities in their state… The team will come back and resume operation in about five days. So, it’s purely for technical and strategic reasons that we have decided to hold the tranquilisation effort,” said Mishra.
Sources, however, said the operation had become risky since the one-year-old C2, bigger in size than its captured sibling, was exhibiting ferocious behaviour and even leapt at one of the four elephants, when it was cordoned off around a week ago.
Mishra, however, denied knowledge of any such incident. Sources also said the cub had not killed a bait for eight days now, and hence, possibly, not eaten anything. Tranquilisation in such a condition could be life-threatening. Mishra, however, said, “It hasn’t killed a bait doesn’t mean that it is starving. There are smaller preys like rodents and hares that it can always kill. We are also putting meat pieces inside the enclosure.”