Relentless efforts to tranquillise and capture MDT23 pay off

From the start, officials said they would capture the tiger alive

Updated - October 28, 2021 12:03 pm IST

Published - October 16, 2021 01:18 am IST - UDHAGAMANDALAM

Tiger T23 on its way to Mysore wild animal rescue centre after it was darted and captured near masinagudi on Friday 15.10.2021. photo: Sathyamoorthy M/THE HINDU.

Tiger T23 on its way to Mysore wild animal rescue centre after it was darted and captured near masinagudi on Friday 15.10.2021. photo: Sathyamoorthy M/THE HINDU.

The 22-day effort to safely tranquillise and capture tiger MDT23 from the Mudumalai Tiger Reserve (MTR) began in another forest division entirely — Gudalur.

On September 24, a 56-year-old man, who was grazing cattle in Devan Estate, which borders the tiger reserve, was mauled to death by the tiger. A search operation quickly ensued to tranquillise the animal, with teams of forest staff and veterinarians deployed.

Despite attempts by the Forest Department, the tiger crossed into another estate and then doubled back towards its core territory in MTR. While crossing back into the tiger reserve, on October 1, another grazer, M. Basuvan, 82, was mauled by the tiger and killed.


Unlike the last time, the tiger had eaten parts of Basuvan after he was killed, causing alarm among the people and the officials. Residents staged a protest, calling for the animal to be shot. Chief wildlife warden of Tamil Nadu Shekhar Kumar Niraj then issued a “hunting” order, authorising the Department to tranquillise and capture the animal, and as a last resort, shoot it down.

Right from the outset of the operation, officials had made it clear that they were focused on capturing the animal alive. Over 100 forest staff, kumki elephants, sniffer dogs and drones were deployed. Assistance from the Kerala and Karnataka forest divisions was welcomed. The tiger’s entry into MTR complicated efforts, as spotting the tiger became difficult. The tiger managed to evade his captors for over two weeks, and was not spotted on of camera traps set in the operation area.

After being spotted on Wednesday, officials had a clear sight of the animal late Thursday. But they avoided darting the tiger due to concerns over safety of the tiger and the staff. Visibly weakened by the pursuit, the tiger made one final attempt to lift a head of cattle on Friday morning near Masinagudi village. Residents notified the Department, which zeroed in on the animal’s location, and with a single dart, brought the capture to a successful conclusion.

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