The Rajasthan Tourism Minister's new love for photography saved a family of tigers in Ranthambhore National Park this week. The observant Minister, who spotted blood in the hind portion of a tigress in the photographs she took during a visit to the park, got the animal operated upon for cleaning a wound infested with maggots. The Minister, Bina Kak, is now being lauded by the conservation community not for saving one tiger but a whole family of three.

The family of T-5, referred to as “Kachida female” in the tiger conservation circles, was saved as Ms. Kak, after watching the tigress in the Ranthambhore woods this past Wednesday, felt something was amiss with the animal. “In the photographs and the video I noticed a red patch on the rump of the tigress. After seeing the pictures I went back to the spot where it was squatting and found blood stains on the ground,” said Ms. Kak, who was Forest Minister in the previous Gehlot government here, to The Hindu.

The Minister summoned Divisional Forest Officer R.P. Gupta and explained the situation. The services of two veterinarians — one from Jaipur and the other from Sawai Madhopur — was requisitioned for an early operation. “I spoke to the PCCF and briefed him on the urgency. It was a sensitive issue and the officers understandably were scared about tranquillising the tigress and carrying out an operation,” Ms. Kak said.

The Minister, who was to start for Jaipur at 6 a.m. on Thursday, stayed back to oversee the operation as the vets, Rajiv Garg and Arvind Mathur, tranquillised the tigress with darts and carried out the “clean-up” job in 20 minutes. “There were hundreds of maggots in the wound and the animal would have died eventually if the clinical intervention was not carried out,” Ms. Kak said.

The tigress got up and walked away four hours after the operation near the Anantpur chowki in Berda. “I was told that she finished a portion of her kill the next day and is now normal,” said a jubilant Ms. Kak.

“It was surely a laudable act in many ways. The Minister deserves kudos for her initiative while the team of vets has proved that now Rajasthan medics have the capacity to do such operations,” said Rajasthan Board for Wildlife member Rajpal Singh.

“Such operations involving wild tigers are rare as risks are involved though in the case of zoo animals it may appear normal,” he noted.

Ms. Kak got her reward for the good work — more photos of the tigress! Even if one does not have to believe her claim — that the tigress looked at her with grateful eyes as it walked away — the animal, as the photographs show, appears more reassured. And the latest information is that T-5 has resumed suckling her two-month-old cubs.