The Maharashtra Forest Department has decided to capture the tigress of Ralegaon and her two cubs in Yavatmal district which killed two people on August 4 and 11.
A special meeting chaired by Vikas Kharge, Principal Secretary of Forest, was held in this regard at the ministry in Mumbai on Tuesday. The meeting was attended by A K Mishra, Principal Chief Conservator of Forest (Wildlife), P G Rahurkar, Chief Conservator of Forest (Yavatmal), K M Abharna, Deputy Conservator of Forest (Pandharkavda) and local representatives from Yavatmal.
According to Abharna, several cows were killed by the cubs in recent past. “We got them on cameras and their pugmarks were found at the spot of the incident. Besides this, the nature of the wounds also indicates the role of the cubs. We have sent DNA samples for confirmation,” the official told The Indian Express.
According to forest officials, the cubs are about 9-10 months old.
In November last year, the forest department had issued an order to capture the tigress following “confirmation of her involvement in at least three human kills till then”. The 160 sq km stretch of forest area between Ralegaon and Kelapur has registered 12 human deaths due to tiger attacks in the past two years, making it one of the most sensitive man-tiger conflict areas of the state.
In January, when another human was killed, the tigress was ordered to be shot. The order, however, was stayed by the Nagpur bench of Bombay High Court, who directed the officials to only capture the animal.
In February, officials discovered that the tigress had two small cubs, making the entire proposition of the Nagpur bench difficult to implement. Subsequently, the high court directed the tigress to be captured via chemical immobilization while the cubs mechanically, without causing any injury to them.
Since the cubs have grown up, Abharna said it will not be possible to capture them mechanically. “So, they too will have to be captured by tranquilization,” she said.
But the job is tricky. “At present, the trio have localised in a small three km by seven km patch filled with lantana and farmlands. So, we also planning to seek six elephants from the Madhya Pradesh Forest Department,” Abharna said.
A K Mishra said, “It is a very difficult situation. A tigress has never been captured in the past along with her cubs. But we have to try and do it.”