Anamalai tiger not wild enough yet to be released

Rewilding of big cat to be delayed as it is unable to kill prey due to lack of right upper canine tooth
As per the norms of National Tiger Conservation Authority, an animal has to prey upon 50 animals before it reaches the age of four | Express
As per the norms of National Tiger Conservation Authority, an animal has to prey upon 50 animals before it reaches the age of four | Express

COIMBATORE:  The relocation of a two-and-half-year-old tiger,  which is being taken care of by officials of Anamalai Tiger Reserve (ATR) in a 10,000 sq ft enclosure at Manthirimattam near Valparai, into the wild is likely to be delayed as the animal is yet to acquire adequate hunting skills. 

Sources in the forest department confirmed to TNIE that the sub adult tiger is unable to kill a prey like how tigers in the wild would, despite the ATR team taking all possible steps to train it. “The animal is taking time to kill the prey as it does not have the right upper canine tooth. Tigers in the wild bite in the neck or throat of prey that suffocate them to death. Also, big cats in the natural habitat lift prey like spotted deer and wild boar using its strong canine. But this cub is unable to do any of these. In fact, it did not tear into the flesh of a wild boar after biting it in the neck,” said a source, adding this could be because the cub lacked the right upper canine. 

As per NTCA norms, an animal has to prey upon 50 animals before it reaches the age of four. However, considering the present situation, the tiger may not achieve the target so that it could be released into the wild. “So far, the animal killed seven small wild boar and spotted deer that were released inside the enclosure,” sources added.

Moreover, the animal has not gained weight as expected. “It weighs around 120 kg against the stipulated weight of 135 kg. We are cautious in keeping the animal active by providing chicken and beef other than releasing of small animals like wild boar and spotted deer inside the enclosure to make the animal take up hunting,” said sources 

A senior official in ATR denied the tiger’s release into the wild is delayed because it could not hunt due to loss of tooth. An expert commitee is likely to meet soon and take a decision on shifting the animal to the larger enclosure.  Three new members including a local veterinarian from Animal Husbandry Department will be inducted. Currently the animal is in good health, and the committee members will be checking the health of the animal directly and the next course of action will be taken,” the official said

The Tamil Nadu forest department has succeeded in capturing a problematic  tiger (MDT-23) which killed four people in an around Masinagudi and shifting it to a zoo in Mysoru. Also, it has successfully rewilded wild elephant Rivaldo. The tiger could be another feather in its cap.

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