Injuries caused by porcupine quills are causing it pain: official

The tiger that was captured on Thursday, after it killed three persons on the fringes of Bandipur, and shifted to Mysore zoo is a healthy feline. However, it is suffering from pain due to the porcupine quills lodged in its body, particularly the chin, besides minor injuries.

Housed in a special enclosure with extra iron grills at the zoo hospital, the tiger showed signs of fright and aggression and tried to break free from the strong enclosure in the night. This attempt caused damage to its teeth. The hospital staff said that it calmed down in the early hours of Friday. However, the tiger appeared drowsy and weak.

“It will take 36 hours for the big cat to recover from the sedatives. Extra doses of sedatives were administered to prevent the animal from incurring self-inflicted wounds while being brought here from the jungle. The tiger will be examined in detail to assess injuries, and treatment will be given accordingly,” said Chief Conservator of Forests and Zoo Executive Director B.P. Ravi, who was part of the recent operation.

Mr. Ravi said that the tiger is aged between eight and nine. The tiger is in stress and it could have starveditself for about a week. .

The porcupine quills that pierced the tiger’s body had been removed. But the quill in its chin is yet to be removed. There is serious injury from the quill near the chest region, he said. Unable to hunt a larger prey, the tiger, perhaps, tried to kill a porcupine whose quills pierced the tiger’s body and chin. It is common to see tigers hunting smaller preys in desperation, he said.

DNA analysis

Though the forest authorities are sure that the captured tiger is the one that attacked and killed the three people, they are planning to have it scientifically confirmed.

The forest personnel had been asked to collect scat matter of tiger in the Hediyala range where the killings took place for DNA analysis to confirm the identity of the animal. About four samples will be sent to different laboratories for DNA analysis.

The Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology (CCMB), Hyderabad, the National Centre for Biological Sciences, Bangalore, and the Indian Veterinary Research Institute, Bangalore, will be approached for the scat analysis, he said.

“The analysis will also confirm whether the tiger ate human flesh,” Mr. Ravi said.

What next

Will the Mysore zoo be the captured tiger’s next home or will it find shelter at the Animal Rescue Centre in Bannerghatta near Bangalore?

“Our first priority is to ensure the tiger’s recovery from injuries which will take sometime. As its lower canines are worn out and other teeth are broken, we have to check whether it can chew or eat bony flesh or be fed soft flesh. It will take at least 15 days for the tiger to recover,” Mr. Ravi said.

Meanwhile, a team of veterinarians, led by Chief Veterinarian and Assistant Director Suresh Kumar, is monitoring the big cat. It consumed four kg of beef and drank water on Friday morning. The zoo staff witnessed the tiger’s aggressiveness as it rammed the thick iron enclosure and also damaged a small cement parapet in its attempt to break free from the enclosure. The canines lost during its aggressive behaviour have been collected by the zoo staff.

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