A fugitive male tiger on the run after attacking and injuring more than half a dozen persons last week in Uttar Pradesh, seemingly sneaked into the bird sanctuary in Rajasthan this Sunday

Now there is a cat among the pigeons and other bird species nesting and breeding in the world famous bird sanctuary Keoladeo National Park (KNP) near Bharatpur in Rajasthan. The intruder in the birds’ paradise, a fugitive male tiger on the run after attacking and injuring more than half a dozen persons last week near Mathura Oil Refinery in the neighbouring State of Uttar Pradesh, seemingly sneaked into the park this Sunday.

The animal, identified as T-7 of Ranthambhore National Park in Rajasthan, was photographed with the help of a camera trap laid on Monday night. The camera trap was laid as the authorities sensed the presence of a big predator in the predominantly herbivore habitat, after the carcass of a big Blue Bull was found on Sunday evening with its rump portion eaten.

“This is the same tiger which had made an appearance in Mathura. Our staff, with the support of the Divisional Forest Officer Mathura have been tracking it ever since,” said Anoop K.R., Field Director of KNP speaking to The Hindu. “After the October 4 incident in Mathura, it moved along the villages of Sajadpur-Gujjar, Soothi, Ikran and Achera for the next four days before vanishing without leaving a trail. However, when on October 10, our staff reported the killing of a Blue Bull we just made an intelligent guess about the likely suspect,” Mr. Anoop noted.

This is the second time in the past one decade a tiger makes its way into the 29 sq km sanctuary, once the wintering ground for Siberian cranes and a World Heritage site of the UNESCO. Back in 1999, a young tigress had entered the park and remained there till 2005 spending six long years till she died. She had a peaceful co-existence with birds and the visitors to the park, smugly feeding on the abundant supply of deer and feral cattle.

“This is an interesting development. It also ceases the worries about the tiger wandering along the Rajasthan-Uttar Pradesh border,” said Parikshit Gautam, director, Freshwater and Wetlands Programme, WWF. “This tiger too can co-exist as the female tiger in the past. After a while, the authorities in Rajasthan can consider the options, including shifting it to Sariska Tiger Reserve if they think it is needed,” Dr. Gautam, who was in Jodhpur to attend the two-day desert bio-diversity meet, noted.

The staff of the KNP, keeping a round-the-clock watch on the big cat, could not spot it with their own eyes yet. “His presence is evident as he made two kills — one of a feral calf and another, a wild boar — the other day. This is an unusual feat considering that predators make one kill and desist from hunting till they consume the flesh,” informed Mr. Anoop on Wednesday. The tiger which was photographed in the Aghapur sector presently is moving in Koladar area, grassland. “It is moving in an area of five kms. The visibility is difficult as the grass is seven feet tall at present,” the Field Director informed.

And life is not exactly the same for visitors to the wetland where birds are busy nesting and breeding in the now inundated park, after the release of water from the Panchna dam last month. There are restrictions in their movement as only the main track is kept open for the public.