Fresh pug marks near the place where Basappa’s body was found and the alarm calls of the langurs alerted the Forest Department staff to the possible presence of the tiger in the vicinity.
Four teams, comprising veterinarians and Forest Department officials, fanned out in different directions around 7.30 a.m. on Thursday.
The plan was to focus around the spot where Basappa’s body was found in Chikkabargi forests of Bandipur Tiger Reserve. The veterinarians included Sannath, Nagaraj, Umashankar and Harish.
Another set of fresh pug marks were identified at around 10 a.m. and one of the teams followed the track.
Wildlife activist D. Rajkumar and a mahout heard the call of the langurs and immediately became alert.
Dr. Sannath, accompanied by an armed guard astride elephant Kanthi, headed towards the direction where the pug marks were found, and the team knew the tiger was nearby.
They had covered a distance of 100 metres from the spot where Basappa’s body was found when they spotted the tiger. Dr. Sannath fired darts and the second one hit the tiger’s thigh. It let out a small growl and walked interiors, very slowly.
“The tiger looked a little weak,” recalled Rajkumar. It takes about 10 to 15 minutes for the tranquiliser to act on the tiger. The first dose of a combination of Ketamine and Xylacine was about 3.5 ml. The tiger walked towards the Hebbala lake and drank copious water. Perhaps, the effect of the tranquiliser was neutralised. But, it fell down after sometime.
“We had a small net, but nevertheless rushed towards the tiger and cast it around the animal. But, the tiger let out a growl and struggled.
“In the melee, it almost freed itself and stood up as if to pounce on us but the team did not panic. Instead, a booster dose was immediately fired and the medicine had its effect,” recalled Rajkumar.
“The effect of the drug lasts about 30 minutes. The staff lifted the tiger and carried it to a cage. Once caged, the authorities revived the animal,” he added. The entire operation lasted 30 minutes.
By noon, the tiger had been captured.