HOW THEY SAVE TIGERS IN TADOBA
In Maharashtra, a trapped cat agonises for nine hours as the rescue team dithers over intervention
POACHERS ARMED with traditional iron foot traps are on the prowl across 29 tiger reserves of the country. This warning was part of an NTCA advisory sent to states a week after two tigers were found trapped by a waterhole in Maharashtra’s Tadoba Tiger Reserve.
While one tiger died on the spot, the other spent nine hours in agony and thirst before the Forest Department team ‘rescued’ it. The delay led to gangrene setting in its paw, which may require an amputation, but only if it survives damaged kidneys and renal failure caused by prolonged dehydration.
Once they reached the spot with a cage, the vets waited for a treatment cage before tranquilising the distressed tiger as “shifting it from a normal cage to a treatment cage would have required another round of immobilisation”. Nobody asked why the team did not opt for treating the tiger on the spot.
Once treated and caged, the second round of active medication might have required another dose of tranquilisers. The tiger might or might not have survived that stress. But by keeping the tiger thirsty and its paw in a bone-crushing iron trap for nine long hours, the officials eliminated such chance factors. Now, if this cat survives, surely it will never return to the wild.
Before frowning on such official wisdom, sample this unofficial one. After the incident, wildlife experts were quoted in a national daily recommending creation of a number of new waterholes in Tadoba. The two existing ones, they reasoned, attract all the tigers and increase their chances of getting trapped. So many waterholes would offer them choice and safety. Again, nobody asked if the move would actually help the poachers. The staff failed to protect two waterholes. What are the chances of their keeping a dozen new ones sanitised?