HOW THEY SAVE TIGERS IN TADOBA

In Ma­ha­rash­tra, a trapped cat ag­o­nises for nine hours as the res­cue team dithers over in­ter­ven­tion

Tehelka - - WHAT ON EARTH -

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?

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