Tigress K4 with snare around her lower abdomen in Chennur forest in Mancherial district.
Incessant rain and the possibility of tigress K4 in search of a mate are two challenges faced by the Forest Department officials and others who are on its trail in Chennur-Bellampally reserve forest.
Even after months of efforts, the expert teams comprising forest officials, veterinarians, and NGO representatives could not coax the injured feline to touch any of the baits.
The tigress is carrying a snare wound tightly around her hind part for more than a year, probably acquired when she was moving from Kagaznagar to Chennur. She was born in Kagaznagar of tigress Phalguna who had crossed over to Telangana from Tadoba-Andhari Tiger Reserve in Maharashtra. Attempts to localise the tigress in Chennur remained futile as she kept moving, covering a wide range of the jungle.
Recently, she had moved to the Bellampally division, which is over 30 km from Chennur, where she has been sighted earlier, inform the officials.
While it was initially thought that the tigress was roaming far and wide making an attempt to mark her territory, the commonly-held expert opinion is that she might be in search of a mate.
“The Bellampally and Chennur forest divisions cover an area of approximately 600 square km, where the tigress is roaming now. There is a possibility that she may be searching for a partner,” said field director of Kawal Tiger Reserve C. Saravanan, who also chairs the committee constituted to capture the tigress, as per the guidelines of the National Tiger Conservation Authority.
The possibility of the tigress eventually finding a partner and conceiving would only complicate the situation, as pregnancy could be extremely dangerous for an animal in her condition. “Pregnancy will be difficult for her, as her lower abdomen is tightly squeezed by the noose,” says a veterinary expert, who is part of the rescue team.
Further, the chances of capturing the tigress dwindle if she is with litter, as immobilising a pregnant tigress through tranquillisation could have dangerous consequences. The gestation period for a tigress ranges between 95 and 105 days during which the rescue operations would be severely hampered, and the animal could slip into distress owing to its delicate condition, say experts.
As of now, four teams are tracking the tigress by following her pug marks and collecting scat -- an operation that is becoming increasingly difficult due to inclement weather.
The feline has killed a bovine two days ago, and officials are pinning their hopes on her returning to the kill. However, as established from her habits, she rarely returns to the kills.
The tigress is making her kills twice every week on an average, mostly from the free ranging cattle, and some times from the wild.
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