Most wild tigers that were either captured or rescued in the forests of Mysore and Kodagu districts in the recent years are housed at the Mysore zoo. Some of these big cats had killed livestock, causing fear among the people living in villages on the forest boundaries.
Largely, the tigers caught/rescued in the wild were old and were probably driven out of their territories by other adult and robust males.
Nevertheless, not many visitors to the zoo are aware that these tigers housed in the Tiger House were caught in the wild. Many tigers have survived, thanks to good veterinary care. In captivity, normally, tigers suffer injuries while trying to break free from the iron cages.
Usually, the captured/rescued wild tigers are retained in the zoos for reasons such as their old age, their incapability to survive in the wild because of injuries and human imprints.
However, early this year, a tigress, which was caught in one of the forest ranges of Nagarahole Tiger Reserve near here, was brought to the zoo for treatment. Thereafter, the Forest Department released the tigress back into the forest as it was found “fit and healthy” for living in the wild.
The zoo houses Amrutha, Brahma, Cauvery and Anusuya that were caught in the wild.
Brahma, a 12-year-old male tiger, was caught in the Brahmagiri Wildlife Sanctuary in Kodagu about five years ago. It is said to have attacked livestock and therefore, caught and shifted to the zoo on March 18, 2008.
Amrutha, a five-year-old tigress, was captured in the Nagarahole Tiger Reserve and shifted to the zoo on December 4, 2012. Cauvery was caught at Kanuru in the Brahmagiri Wildlife Sanctuary in Kodagu on June 3, 2010.
Also, a 12-year-old male tiger, Madesha, was rescued near the Metikuppe range in H.D. Kote taluk and brought to the zoo in August this year for treatment. It was sent to the rescue centre at Bannerghatta, after recovery.
Anusuya (Anu) was rescued when it was about three months old, from the Bababundangiri hills, Muthodi range, which is now part of the buffer area of the Bhadra Tiger Reserve, and shifted to the zoo on October 28, 2008.
Speaking to The Hindu, Chief Conservator of Forest and Zoo Executive Director B.P. Ravi said: “We have retained most wild tigers at the zoo. One was released back into the wild after treatment, and Madesha was shifted to Bannerghatta due to its old age. We cannot keep aged big cats as we do not have a rescue centre here. Stronger tigers, perhaps, drove out Madesha from its territory.”
Mr. Ravi said that Amrutha was rescued and brought here for treatment after it suffered injuries in a snare. It was retained at the zoo after it recovered from injuries.
A tigress, aged between three and four, was brought for a health check-up on November 23 last year. With the permission of the competent authorities, a transponder was inserted in the neck for identification before it was released. A transponder is a rice grain size microchip possessing unique identification number that can be read only by transponder reader. The number was 956000002161159, according to Mr. Ravi.
Incidentally, the tiger was captured by the Kerala forest department in February this year and is now kept at the Thrissur zoo.
A tiger, aged around 12, Nagaraja, which was suspected to be a “man-eater”, was caught near Bommalapurahadi in H.D. Kote taluk after it killed a woman and partially consumed the body.
The tiger had a fracture in its left forelimb and injuries in its nose and back. The tiger was old and had lost a tooth in the lower jaw. It, however, later died of injuries.
One of the reasons for keeping wild tigers at the zoo was to introduce new bloodline, while taking up captive breeding of tigers. In fact, captive breeding of tigers was stepped up after the arrival of wild tigers, particularly Brahma, a strong and big male. It was paired with Manya, a seven-year-old white tigress, which was selected for captive breeding with the hope of getting new white cubs. In five years, Brahma has sired five male and three female cubs.
The zoo also treated Masti, a male tiger from the Mastigudi area in Bandipur, a few years ago. It lost one of its limbs to a jaw-trap set up by a gang of poachers from Madhya Pradesh. Masti was big news in those years. It was later shifted to Bannerghatta. After many years in captivity, it died recently.