After a 22-day-long operation, the tiger, which is nick-named MDT23 and believed to have been responsible for the death of two herders in the Mudumalai Tiger Reserve and Gudalur, was tranquillised by the Forest Department on Friday.
The tiger was seen along the Masinagudi-Theppakadu Road on Thursday night and tracked to Masinagudi and the surrounding Singara on Friday morning. Chief Wildlife Warden Shekhar Kumar Niraj said a single dart, fired from atop a ‘kumki’ elephant, hit the animal. The tranquilliser subdued the tiger around 2.30 p.m.
Supriya Sahu, Principal Secretary, Department of Environment and Forests, said that once the tiger was subdued, its health parameters were checked by veterinarians part of the operation to capture the animal.
Medication and drugs were administered to the animal to stabilise its condition. “It is extremely weak owing to the injuries,” Mr. Niraj said. Its age apart, the tiger has suffered injuries, possibly in a territorial fight with another tiger.
The tiger will be taken to the rescue and rehabilitation centre in Mysuru for further treatment. Officials said that once it recovered, a decision would be made as to whether it would be kept in captivity either at the Mysore Zoo or at the Arignar Anna Zoological Park in Chennai.
Forest Minister K. Ramachandran lauded the efforts to capture the tiger. “All three problem tigers in the Nilgiris in the last decade were shot dead. This is the first such animal that has been captured alive.”
The media personnel staged a protest and blocked the Masinagudi-Theppakadu Road after some members of the public, including children, were taken to the area of operation, while the journalists were stopped on the main Masinagudi Road. The protest went on for 45 minutes, and traffic came to a standstill.
After Ms. Sahu and Mr. Niraj appealed to the media personnel to give up the protest to ensure timely treatment of the animal, it was discontinued. Ms. Sahu assured them that how permission was granted for non-Forest Department staff to enter the area would be investigated.