Environment

Too far from home? A tiger visits the Lalgarh forest

A camera trap image of the adult male tiger spotted at Lalgarh in Jhargram district.

A camera trap image of the adult male tiger spotted at Lalgarh in Jhargram district.   | Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

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First foray of big cat to an area just 160 km off Kolkata leads to a flurry of activity to keep it out of harm’s way

It has been a long journey for a tiger to the Lalgarh forest of Bengal, one that has not reported any sightings in the available record. Located about 165 km from Kolkata, this area is now the focus of attention, as camera traps have confirmed the presence of an adult male tiger.

“The tiger is about 10 years old. It was first recorded on Friday at about 4.30 a.m. roaming in Lalgarh forest by camera traps of the Forest Department. There are no previous records of tiger sightings in Lalgarh,” State Forest Minister Binoy Krishna Barman told The Hindu. Four pictures of the animal were taken by camera traps at Katapahari in Lalgarh.

The cameras were placed about a couple of weeks ago at seven places following attacks on cattle and killing of seven cows in the nearby villages. “Fortunately there has been no human casualty so far. A Forest Department team from the Sundarbans has arrived in Lalgarh and is working with local Forest officials to capture and relocate the animal,” said Mr. Barman.

District Forest Officer (DFO) Rabindranath Saha said cages to capture the tiger were placed on Saturday in Madhupur.

The authorities are planning to temporarily relocate the cat to the Tiger Rescue Centre at Jharkhali in the Sundarbans . “Before relocating the tiger we have to ensure that it will be able to survive in the Sundarbans as the climate and terrain there is totally different.” said Mr. Barman. The Minister said that the State government would write to the Centre on relocating it to the Buxa Tiger Reserve or Jaldapara National Park.

Forest officials are baffled at the animal’s presence in Lalgarh, and think it could have strayed from neighbouring Jharkhand or Odisha.

Territorial fight?

One possibility is Simlipal Tiger Reserve in Odisha, and the reason could be a territorial fight. Simlipal is nearly 200 km away from Lalgarh.

“About five years ago, a male tiger referred to as Joi migrated from Nagzira Wildlife Sanctuary in Maharashtra to Urmed Karhandla Wildlife Sanctuary, covering about 150 km,” said Ajanta Dey, joint secretary and project director of Nature Environment and Wildlife Society (NEWS), an NGO that has been working in the Sundarbans for tiger conservation.

Lalgarh, however, is not seen as suitable habitat for tigers given its poor prey base. “Unless the animal is captured and relocated, it may lead to man-animal conflict in the absence of prey and the cat would go after livestock,” said Ms. Dey.

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Printable version | Jan 18, 2020 10:48:33 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/sci-tech/energy-and-environment/too-far-from-home-a-tiger-visits-the-lalgarh-forest/article22920247.ece

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