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IN PHOTOS: Prowling tiger TRAPPED near Lucknow

Last updated on: April 25, 2012 21:54 IST

Prowling tiger TRAPPED near Lucknow

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Sharat Pradhan in Lucknow

A full-grown tiger was trapped on Wednesday after being on the prowl in the neighbourhood of Lucknow for exactly 108 days.

The tiger was believed to have strayed from the forest in and around Lakhimpur-Kheri district, about 200 km from Lucknow, in early January and had found his haven in a thick forest patch around the Union government run Central Institute of Sub-Tropical Horticulture in Rehmankhera, barely 20 km off the state capital.

According to UP forest and wildlife conservator Mahendra Singh, who was specially detailed to lead the operation, "The wild cat was first sighted in the forests of Hardoi on January 1 and barely four days later, it was spotted in the sprawling 250-acre forest patch in Rehmankhera, where we succeeded in capturing the animal today." The tiger, however, casue no injury to any human being.

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Image: UP forest officials trap the wild cat on the lose in a forest patch near around an institute in Rehmankhera
Photographs: Sharat Pradhan/Rediff.com

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Prowling tiger TRAPPED near Lucknow

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Singh, who was entrusted with the task as late as on April 18, hit his first success by spotting the tiger within a week's time -- a task that several other experts had failed to achieve in more than three months.

"We had managed to localise the animal by setting a bait on Monday night, when it came for the kill; and knowing that it would return to the kill after a day, we took positions with our tranquiliser expert Dr Utkarsh Shukla and an expert from Wildlife Trust of India on three different elephants, who were specially brought here from the Dudhwa National Park where they had gained long experience in tiger tracking," Singh told rediff.com. In total, 17 baits were put in place, he added.

"No sooner the animal came within the range of the tranquiliser gun, Dr Shukla fired the dart, which sent the wild cat unconscious within a matter of seconds", disclosed Singh.

"Our support team instantly got into action and carted the animal into a cage, following which a crane was brought to lift the roughly 100-kg animal on to a truck, on which it was carried to the Dudhwa national park, where it would be set free on Thursday", he added.


Image: Support staff trying to cart the unconscious tiger into a cage
Photographs: Sharat Pradhan/Rediff.com

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Prowling tiger TRAPPED near Lucknow

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The tiger regained consciousness within 40 minutes of the capture, but the cage was covered under a black sheet to prevent teasing by thousands of curious local villagers who had gathered at the site. The menacing growl and threatening roar of the striped cat could be heard all along until the truck sped away from Rehmankhera.

While the entire team of wildlife officials looked elated at the feat, it was Irshad, the 'mahawat' (rider) of elephant Roopkali, who was clearly most excited -- cause it was this particular elephant that had played the most vital role in zeroing in on the tiger.

"I am going to reward Roopkali with a special gift from my side -- Rs 100 worth of sweets, which he loves the most", quipped Irshad, while patting his highly trained elephant.

This was the third time since December 2008 that a tiger had strayed out of the wild to enter urban pockets including the neighbourhood of Lucknow. In the past two incidents, both presumed man-eaters were gunned down in Faizabad and Lakhimpur-Kheri after special wildlife teams failed to trap the animals in several months-long chase.

Meanwhile, well known wildlife life expert and former director of Dudhwa National Park G C Misra, who went on the tiger trail to Rehmankhera earlier, said, "The straying of the tiger from the reserved forests in the terai region speaks volumes of the increasing penetration of human population in the natural home of the big cats."


Image: This was the third time since December 2008 that a tiger had strayed out of the wild to enter urban pockets including the neighbourhood of Lucknow
Photographs: Sharat Pradhan/Rediff.com

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