Confirming the news, A Sunderbans official said that the big cat, a female and aged around four years, was trapped in a cage laid in the Asorala area of Jharkhali. Till the last reports came, the foresters have started from the 3 No. Ghat area with the tiger towards the Jharkhali rescue centre.
The tiger from Pirkhali forest had first crossed the Vidya river to enter the Tridibnagar village. The area falls under the South 24-Parganas forest division. This is the first incident of tiger straying in the mangroves this year.
Interestingly, this was the first time when a technology like camera trap was used in case of a tiger straying. “We had laid four pairs of camera traps in the area. Quite a few images of the big cats were captured in the cameras. We used the images to make the villagers aware so that they don’t lose their temper. We showed them the images and told them that this is the big cat that you will have to save,” said Sunderbans Biosphere Reserve director Pradeep Vyas.
Ranger Nilratan Guha said that the tiger had changed its location at least five times in the last eight days. “It changed its location twice today and moved away almost seven kilometres from Vidyasagar Pally, where it hid yesterday, to the Asorala area where we laid the trap cage,” he said, adding that before entering the trap cage the tiger was hiding near a ‘bheri’. Sources said that the tiger has travelled more than 24 kilometres across several villages in the area in the last eight days.
A source said that the foresters had to change the location of the cages four times in these days. “Since the tigress is young, we couldn’t lure it with a live bait and placed goat meat inside the cage today. It worked,” said a source.
Vyas said that they would keep the tiger under watch for a few days before releasing it back to wild. “We will keep the big cat in the rescue centre at Jharkhali for a few days. We have squeeze cages there which will come handy for its treatment. We have to keep it in mind that the big cat is also under trauma. Once it overcomes the trauma, then we will release it in the wild, probably inside a core area,” he said, adding that if needed, they will get vets from the Alipore zoo to check on its health.
Earlier on Friday, the villagers of Vidyasagar Pally had spotted the big cat trying to clear a nylon fence back into the forest at around 4.20 am. Failing to jump over the barrier, it took refuge at the paddy field which is spread over 15 bighas. A nylon fence has been erected around the ground and forest guards are keeping a vigil.
Three trap cages were placed around the local paddy fields and floodlights were also put up to locate the tiger.