Two years after the controversial shooting of Pandharkawda tigress T1, nicknamed Avni, authorities are set to release into the wild her female cub after successfully radio-collaring her.
The three-year-old cub, named T1C2, is currently under observation in a five-hectare enclosure at Pench Tiger Reserve (PTR), where she was brought after being captured in December 2018. Since then, Forest Department officials have been carrying out “re-wilding” exercises — releasing natural prey to let her gain experience in hunting.
Initially, three areas had been suggested for T1C2’s release —Navegaon-Nagzira Tiger Reserve (NNTR), Gadchiroli and PTR. On November 27, the technical committee of the National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA) gave the go-ahead to release the cub in the open forest in PTR.
“A team of Wildlife Institute of India radio-collared T1C2 on Tuesday. We will observe the tigress for a few days to check how she carries the collar. We will then just open the enclosure and let her walk out of it,” said Principal Chief Conservator of Forest (Wildlife) Nitin Kakodkar.
“Once out of the enclosure, we will monitor her movements in the forest. Although she has interacted with tigers — both male and female — outside the enclosure across the fence, it will be an entirely different experience if and when she comes in contact with them in the open forest. So, we will keep track,” he said.
Asked about the possibilities of T1C2 getting into a fight with another big cat, Kakodkar said, “It’s possible that there could be a violent clash. But we will let her deal with it in her own way. Only in case of serious injuries might we think of intervening.”
As reported earlier, the Forest Department is going to put another tigress captured in Pandharkawda forest in the enclosure at PTR for a similar exercise of “re-wilding”. The tigress was captured on September 26 after killing two people and was loitering around villages in search of cattle.
Asked if T1C2 could return to the enclosure, Kakodkar said, “It’s possible. That, however, won’t be a hurdle in putting the other tigress in there because we have a small enclosure within the large enclosure too. So, the two would remain apart from each other.”
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