The tiger, which is suspected to have killed two herders within a month and several cattle, has been caught alive by the forest department near Masinagudi.
The tiger was found on Masinagudi-Theppakadu Road on Thursday night while it was closely tracked by the forest department. Though wildlife activists claimed that tranquillizers were shot at the tiger at night hours in violation, the forest department officials denied the charges.
The forest department resumed operations on Friday morning and spotted the animal near the Masinagudi check post. Chief Wildlife Warden Shekhar Kumar Niraj told media persons that the animal was tranquillized with a single dart shot by an expert veterinarian from atop a kumki elephant while it was near Masinagudi check post attempting to prey on cattle.
Soon, the animal came under the influence of sedation at around 2.30pm. During the risky operation, one of the forest department staff sustained injuries.
This is the first instance of a problematic tiger being captured alive in the Nilgiris. In previous incidents, three tigers that were declared man-eaters were shot dead during hunting operations. The forest department also began to tread cautiously after the Madras High Court order to avoid killing the tiger and instead of capturing it alive.
Chief Wildlife Warden Shekhar Kumar Niraj had on 1 October issued an order to hunt the tiger after it began to attack human beings. For the massive operation, the forest department deployed kumkis, sniffer dogs, drones and over 90 cameral traps to track the carnivore. A large number of forest department staff were also involved in the operation.
The tiger, despite injuries and old age, managed to escape multiple attempts by the forest department to tranquillize due to its intelligent expertise in the terrain. Soon after the capture of the animal, State Forest Minister K Ramachandran, Principal Secretary, Department of Environment, Climate Change and Forests Supriya Sahu and Chief Wildlife Warden Shekhar Kumar Niraj inspected the tiger, which is being taken to the rescue and rehabilitation centre in Mysore in Karnataka for treatment to its injuries.
Once it recovers, further decisions will be taken whether to retain it in the Mysore Zoo or to bring it back to Arignar Anna Zoological Park in Chennai, officials said. Veterinarians examined the health condition of the tiger and administered it with medication.