A Tigress with at least three cubs was spotted inside Maharashtra’s Chandrapur Super Thermal Power Station (CSTPS) on August 4, a week after another tigress with four cubs was seen roaming the station’s ash-bund area. Range Forest Officer (RFO) Santosh Tiple said on Tuesday that at present, both families are separated by a distance of around 3 km.
The spotting of the new tigress has led to panic among local residents, as it had lunged at a motorcycle rider on a road located 500 metres from Urjanagar, the permanent colony housing the station’s employees. A video of the incident, which also took place on August 4, has gone viral. Tiple said the spot where the incident took place has been identified.
The first tigress’ cubs are over one-and-a-half years old, while those of the new tigress are only one or two months old. It was even spotted carrying one of them in its mouth. Officials believe the new tigress may have delivered the cubs in the CSTPS area, because carrying such small cubs to a faraway place is not possible.
With the CSTPS located near the Tadoba Andhari Tiger Reserve, officials suspect the tigresses may have migrated from there. Also, breaches in the compound wall of the power station premises — spread over 11,000 hectares — are likely to have helped the new tigress enter CSTPS.
Earlier, thick vegetation and abundant cattle inside the premises as well as in eight nearby villages had prompted the first tigress to make CSTPS its home. If the new tigress manages to get enough food and a hiding place, it could also make the place its home, officials said.
Forest officials have another reason to worry. With the station being located barely 3 km from the city of Chandrapur, people are rushing to see the big cats. “This has made our job more difficult. We have approached the collector, who visited the spot along with the SP on Thursday. We have sought the formulation of an expert team comprising officials of the Wildlife Institute of India (WII) and the National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA) to suggest remedies to avert possible human-tiger conflict,” said Tiple.
He added that 20 forest officials have been deployed in the area for round-the-clock monitoring. “We have also asked CSTPS officials to clear the nullahs from where the two tigresses are suspected to have entered CSTPS. The two nullahs are on the sides of the two dams, Irai and Avandha, owned by CSTPS.”
Asked about their preys, Tiple said, “The first tigress has killed 34 cattle owned by farmers over the last one-and-a-half years. But the CSTPS area itself has over a thousand stray cattle and we don’t know how many of them may have been killed.”
Honorary Wildlife Warden of Chandrapur, Bandu Dhotre, said: “It’s a very complicated situation. It can lead to very tricky human-tiger conflict. I met Forest Minister Sudhir Mungantiwar and apprised him of the seriousness of the issue. He has issued directives to officials to initiate urgent measures.”
“We will initiate measures to tackle the situation in a week’s time. I have discussed the issue with WII and NTCA,” said A K Mishra, Principal Chief Conservator of Forests (Wildlife).