Reputed hunter from the city, ‘Nawab’ Shafat Ali Khan, who used to be frequently embroiled in controversies by shooting down ‘man-eating’ tigers, has, for a change, successfully tranquillised female tiger in Maharashtra that had reportedly turned man-eater.
The three-year-old tigress was captured alive on Monday evening from the outlying territory of Tadoba National Park, near Halda village, Mr. Khan informed over phone.
The tigress, named C-1 by the Forest Department officials, was from the spill-over population of 40 adult tigers and 19 cubs that struggled for survival in the Brahmapuri Division outside the national park, thickly populated with human habitations and sparsely with prey base.
The young feline had killed two humans and injured four, besides lifting away countless cattle and goats between April and June. After it had reportedly killed a man on June 21 and partially ate his body, villagers became furious leading to her being declared a man-eater, and ordered to be shot down.
Attempts by veterinarians to tranquillise the big cat turned futile, and Mr. Khan was invited by the Maharashtra Government to hunt her down. “I had noticed that the tigress displayed abnormal behaviour. She would kill the cattle during daytime, and when resisted, attack the villagers,” Mr. Khan recalled. However, he decided to capture her alive, after noticing from camera traps that she was beautiful and young. His team, including son Asghar, faced tough opposition from the villagers who wanted her shot down.
“They even attacked us once, seeing the tranquilliser guns in our hands. We had to sit with them, and make them understand our efforts,” he said. The cattle kills became very frequent, but almost always, the tigress abandoned her kills scared by the attempts to chase her away.
Tigress that was tranquillised.
“After a futile attempt at Padmapur village on July 4, she disappeared up to July 9, only to resurface near Halda village where she was conceived by her mother. Our task became very difficult as her mother and two sisters roamed in the five square kilometre vicinity,” Mr. Khan said.
Painstakingly, the stripes on the tigress’ body were memorised, and her presence was ascertained further through her odd tendencies of abandoning her kills.
“Monday afternoon, she killed a cow and ate five kilograms of meat. We set up a ‘machan’, tied the carcass with ropes and awaited her arrival. At 5.30 p.m., she came tearing out, lifted the carcass snapping the ropes, and almost galloped away, but not before I took a very fast shot. The dart went in her neck, and she fled dropping her kill,” Mr. Khan explained. She was noticed 200 meters away, captured and brought back to the Forest Department’s camp at Ekara village.
“I visited the tigress on Tuesday morning. She was in healthy condition,” Mr. Khan informed.